Refinery 29 gives this Interview editorial, titled “Let’s Get Lost,” the side-eye of skepticism:
From the differences in their dress (Daria’s in ethereal, angel-like gowns, the others are in knits and leathers) to their body language (A limp yet super-sexual Daria is the main focus, the others feel almost like props), the whole spread has a rather racist vibe that we can’t get down with despite the gorgeous art direction of the spread. Don’t you agree? After all, regardless of what some say, fashion is at its core a political and social product—how power relationships are set up in editorials can speak volumes. So while the super-sexy, ethno-traditional thing is very of the moment, it all seems to be setting up a 21st century colonial construct that makes us very uncomfortable.
Good grief, Interview. It’s as if the entire fashion-industrial complex must be forcibly enrolled in a postcolonial feminist studies course, and made to imbibe bell hooks’ essay “Eating the Other,” among other readings. Tom & Lorenzo (who also cast a critical eye upon Vivienne Westwood’s latest “homeless” collection) also comment (thanks for the heads up, Covet Chicago!):
Aren’t we past this whole colonialist idea of the fetishized black person? It’s fine to cast a bunch of gorgeous black models, but they’re more like props or backdrops for the white girl to play with or lean up against. Plus everyone’s inexplicably sweaty, like sex is gonna break out at any second. This is all deliberate button-pushing and it’s tired. “Let’s be controversial” in a very 1979 kind of way.
You can see the entire set of images at Refinery 29 or Tom & Lorenzo.
As well as “Eating the Other,” fashion editors, photographers, and their supporters would do well to revisit vintage Threadbared and read Mimi’s 3-part post on how fashion and art use people of color as landscape. See Background Color; Background Color, Redux; and Background Color, Redux II. (Minh-Ha)