When Vogue Italia posted an article about an exciting new trend, "Slave Earrings," the internet threw a collective fit. Using the tragic slave trade as a fun and flirty new trend seemed maybe just a little insensitive and also yes, pretty racist. The oversized gold hoops do seem African-inspired — but you know, I hear there's more to Africa and Africans than the continent's and the people's history of having been exploited and enslaved by the Western world. And another thing: Vogue Italia seemed to be glamorizing a major atrocity, and that kind of thing is generally frowned upon by decent people.
Editor Franca Sozzani issued a statement apologizing for the gaffe and claiming that "slave" was a heinous mis-translation from "ethnic": "We apologise [sic] for the inconvenience. It is a matter of really bad translation from Italian into English…The Italian word, which defines those kind of earrings, should instead be translated into 'ethnical style earrings'. Again, we are sorry about this mistake which we have just amended in the website."
Hmmm. If Vogue Italia wants to continue publishing web content in English, it should maybe hire some writers and editors that speak the language well enough to know the difference between the practice of treating humans as property and the term for a population subgroup.
When asked about the scandal, supermodel Iman didn't mince words: "I didn’t like it. Slave does not make it ethnic. Mind you, it’s not lost in translation–the word slave, we know what it is. They might as well have called them 'n***** earrings.' For somebody like Franca Sozzani, who did that whole black issue for Vogue, somebody should have said something."