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Vogue Italy’s ‘Vogue Black’ Section and More Proof of Fashion’s Race Problem

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Image: Vogue Italy

It's almost impossible to believe that people at Vogue Italy actually thought creating a "Vogue Black" section was a good idea. That is just the case, however, as highlighted in an op-ed by Jason Campbell for Business of Fashion. Campbell points out that the section has been around since 2010 and is dedicated solely to covering people of color. "What recently attracted my attention was its coverage from Pitti Uomo in Florence for which the site’s editors thought it appropriate to segregate black street style images in a section of the site’s 'Black Blog' called 'Vogueista Black,'" writes Campbell. Separation doesn't always have to be bad; for example, women of color have different hair and beauty needs and addressing those is a positive thing. Unfortunately, segregation for the sake of segregation doesn't do anything but further the divide. Vogue Italy was also the one who, in 2008, published an “all black” issue. It was widely hailed as a triumph, but isn't that, too, just segregation for the sake of segregation (and PR buzz)? If a publication really cares about diversity, it should make a point to integrate models of color seamlessly and in proportion to other ethnicities in its everyday coverage.

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The disturbing issues of race don't end there. Miroslava Duma published an image on her website of Garage magazine’s editor in chief Dasha Zhukova sitting on a chair/woman in bondage wear — again, hard to believe that someone thought this was acceptable. She has since issued an apology and has cropped the image so that you can only see the black woman's boots. Also on deck when it comes to apologies? Madonna, who has apologized after much criticism for her use of the N word. Let's hope Martin Luther King, Jr. isn't turning in his grave.

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Aerie Debuts Airbrush-Free Lingerie Ads

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It's unfortunate that we live in a society so obsessed with an unobtainable image of perfection that nearly every advertisement and editorial shoot we see is heavily Photoshopped (we're talking hours if not days of edits). It has spawned a whole industry — from open calls for original images to US Weekly articles on what celebrities really looks like. While it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, some progress is being made. Who can forget the now famous Dove commercials and their mission for real beauty? The latest to hop on this train is American Eagle's lingerie store Aerie. The brand has launched Aerie Real, a Spring 2014 ad campaign featuring all unairbrushed models.

The campaign is "challenging supermodel standards by featuring unretouched models in their latest collection of bras, undies and apparel," the store said in a public statement. This move is not only astute because it  gives Aerie the kind of press and attention it could otherwise only have dreamed of (cynical, but that surely was part of the brand's reasoning), but it's also critical that we stop brainwashing the public with what basically amounts to deceptive images — especially companies like Aerie, whose target demographic is 15-21 year olds.

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Kendra Spears Covers Vogue Spain’s February Issue (Forum Buzz)

Vogue Spain February 2014

image credit: Digital Edition Vogue España February 2014, via the tfs forums

For anyone who was worried American model Kendra Spears would quit modeling after marrying Muslim Prince Rahim Aga Khan and officially becoming 'Princess Salwa Aga Khan', here’s some good news. It looks like the Princess has no intention of putting a stop to her collaborations with Giampaolo Sgura, having worked with the photographer repeatedly even after her wedding in August 2013.

Now here’s some bad news: The latest collaboration unfortunately falls flat. Although neither Spears nor Sgura are to blame for it, the cover of Vogue Spain’s February issue is “all WRONG,” as tFS forum member Bertrando3 remarked. “Awful styling, amateurish pose, hideous layout,” he noted.

“Such horrible styling, this cover is giving me a headache!” agreed Miss Dalloway.

Fluxxx acknowledged that at least the model was captured well here. “The styling is busy for sure but I love her face. She looks gorge as usual,” he posted. 

Cover Story Vogue February 2014

Interestingly enough, none of the other shots from the editorial – see the full cover story here – are as busy and messy as the cover shot. Had another shot been chosen for the cover, this could have been a fantastic cover. Instead, we are left with a cover that is quite an eyesore thanks to the garish styling and busy background. What were you thinking, Vogue Spain?

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Vanessa Axente Scores Several Calvin Klein Campaigns (Forum Buzz)

Calvin Klein Collection Spring 2014, by Mert & Marcus

image credit: sfilate.it via the tfs forums

She does it again. Vanessa Axente snagged a bunch of Calvin Klein campaigns this season. She not only stars in the latest fragrance campaign for ‘Euphoria’, she also repeats the main line, Calvin Klein Collection, and appears in the Calvin Klein Jeans ads. Quite an accomplishment for any model, but especially for one as young and new as the 18 year old Hungarian beauty.

In the Calvin Klein Collection campaign, Vanessa is joined by male model Clarke Bockelman. The ads were shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott and reaped numerous compliments on the tFS forums.

Calvin Klein Collection Spring 2014, by Mert & Marcus

“The first pic is perfection. As far as I am concerned, Vanessa is a total CK girl, she fits this brand so well, even better than Prada,” Avogadro wrote, referring to Vanessa’s multiple appearances in Prada campaigns. 

Anlabe32 gushed, "That image of her and Clarke is perfect. I die."

“A new CK girl is born,” HelaFav5 very aptly put.

For the Jeans campaign, which was shot by Mario Sorrenti, Vanessa was coupled up with Matthew Terry. The images show the models being affectionate and sensual while modeling the denim outfits out in the fields. As justaguy pointed out, the photos look “like 90s Bruce Weber.” 

Calvin Klein Jeans Spring 2014, by Mario Sorrenti

image credit: sfilate.it via the tfs forums

In case last season’s stunning campaign wasn’t enough to convince you that Vanessa Axente and Calvin Klein are a match made in heaven, this season should do it. Or how could anyone not fall in love with these images?

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Cult Melbourne Label P.A.M. Called Out for Banal Cultural Appropriation

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Cult label P.A.M. might be about to lose some of its street cred thanks to an accusatory Vimeo clip.

About a week ago, a video titled ‘p.a.m (it’s a white thing too)’ was uploaded to YouTube’s more sophisticated cousin by an anonymous user attempting to name and shame the beloved Melbourne brand as racist.

"For a group of people who freely use African textile patterns and traditional ornaments, put on performances using didgeridoos and dot painting, and casually deface images of black people, you might think they have some personal connection to the cultures they have profited from," the video states. "But they are just as white as their $150 T-shirts. T-shirts which are cheaply made in China, but have the labels removed and replaced with 'Made In Australia.'"

The video then calls out the National Gallery of Victoria for displaying their “banal cultural appropriation” in their foyer. “Perks and Mini – for when you’re privileged and you’re bored. Bored of being white,” the video concludes.

While Native American culture has seemed to bear the brunt of fashion’s obsession with cultural appropriation over the last few years, thanks to Coachella and the Navajo “trend,” there has been a heightened awareness of sartorial racism as of late. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Lily Allen have been called out for picking and choosing elements of black street culture, and Katy Perry learned the hard way that Geisha costume is a surefire shortcut to social media bloodletting. And let’s not even get started on the Halloween/blackface debacle.

With this heightened customer awareness of cultural appropriation in fashion, YOLO is no longer an acceptable attitude to take towards racial context. And as The Vine's Jake Cleland points out, insouciance is a big part of P.A.M.’s design aesthetic. In an interview with Meander Journal, designers Shauna Toohey and Misha Hollenbach described their process thusly: "We're interested in things that are steeped in mystery, things that cannot be explained. If you believe that a giant serpent vomited up the cosmos, then it sounds cool to us, regardless of whether it happened or not."

We get that mystery can be visually pleasing, but that’s the sartorial equivalent of a kanji tattoo that translates to “egg roll.” C’mon, guys—no one ever called out a label for being too sensitive to cultural context.  

Perks and Mini have yet to respond. 

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Agent Provocateur Creates a Domestic Fantasy in New Spring 2014 Campaign

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All images courtesy of Miles Aldridge

Agent Provocateur has gone all Stepford wife for its new spring/summer campaign, bringing to life the distorted fantasy world of a suburban housewife.

Of course, that is if every bored housewife cavorts around the house in colour popping silk satin and red lace. That is what Agent Provocateur would like us to think, enlisting the help of photographer Miles Aldridge who seemed all too happy to help to bring one of his own personal dreams.

“Shooting with Agent Provocateur was like a childhood dream come true where I drop by unannounced on a school friend to find his mother home hovering in the kitchen in just her lingerie. These sensations from early adolescence run through all my work, like the pink sugar writing inside a piece of well sucked Brighton rock, except the endless word in my rock is woman, woman, woman, woman, woman.”

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Taking on the role of the ‘wives’ is Hailey Clanson who can be seen washing floors in a violet plunge bra as well as taking up a spot of hoovering in a black sheer number. The 18-year-old model has stepped into some well trodden heels for the lingerie brand, following the likes of Karen Elson, Kate Moss and Daria Werbowy.

Creative director Sarah Shotten loves the characters that Clanson embodies saying that she was "interested in the irony behind the idea of the ‘Perfect’ woman, unfazed by the everyday pressures of life. Our campaign girl has it all, she’s a lady in the street and a wildcat in the bedroom and the collection mirrors her pretty perfection."

Whether the perfect woman can be found at home or not, she certainly looks powerful here.

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