In WTF Fashion News: Vogue Italia Runs Trend Story on ‘Slave Earrings’

by Kristina Uriegas-Reyes

Vogue Italia was doing so well with their well-intended plus-sized model issue, but then they had to go and mess up their good PR with this monstrously tacky naming of a trend on the Vogue Italia website. They’ve always been one to push the envelope, but this time, I literally don’t know what they were thinking. As of Monday morning, they replaced “slave” with with the word “ethnic,” but is that really any better?  I never understood fashion’s use of the word “ethnic,” especially since the U.S. and parts of Europe are such a melting pot of cultures. It somehow seems to mean anything other than white when it came to models and any kind of culturally recognizable print when it comes to clothes. 

It only got worse when it came to the description. After initial outcries, they changed the word, but they didn’t bother to change the description, except to take out the words “slave trade.”

“If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern Unites States during the [slave trade] late 18th century, the latest interpretation is pure freedom. Colored stones, symbolic pendants and multiple spheres. And the evolution goes on.”

Pure freedom? Uh..yeah, that’s not what I think of when I think “Slave Earrings.”

It wasn’t until bad press started building that they’ve now removed the description and in it’s place put, “WE’VE DECIDED TO REMOVE THE ARTICLE FROM THE SITE TO PROVE OUR GOOD FAITH AND TO SHOW IT WASN’T OUR INTENTION TO INSULT ANYONE.”

Well, here’s hoping the “master mind” behind that idea actually thinks about what they’re writing next time. 

Fashionista got an interesting reaction from former supermodel Iman on the matter:

Fashionista: You were one of the pioneering women of color in this industry. What’s your reaction to Vogue Italia running a feature titled “Slave Earrings”?

Iman: I’m a huge fan of Franca Sozzani and Vogue Italia’s website because they have a whole section on black models. Is it controversial? Yes. The naming of it, I don’t get it. I sometimes wonder in this age of reality shows has it become part of the language–the more controversy the more [buzz] it creates. But yeah, 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.

Well said I say. 


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