Naomi Campbell has a mean runway strut, wakes up flawless, gives the most epic shade, slays in photos and champions against racism in the fashion industry.
In her nearly three decade career as a supermodel, Campbell has never shied away from vocalizing how racist and diversity deficient the fashion industry is. At the Vogue Festival in London last week, Campbell expressed her sentiments for wanting a Vogue Africa.
Sitting alongside Vogue Italia’s editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani, Campbell made a direct appeal to Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Condé Nast International.
“I’m hoping, Jonathan, that we can have African Vogue,” she said. “I would be the editor,” said Sozzani, and Campbell replied, “I’ll be an assistant.”
Vogue currently has over a dozen international publications like Vogue Italia and Vogue Brazil. Even with empowering African efforts like Fashion 4 Development, which Sozzani serves as the ambassador of, Newhouse said there is a long way to go before a Vogue Africa could be realized.
“We really have to work much more, and to have more people believe in [Africa],” he replied to Naomi. “There is not confidence in these countries [from the international fashion industry] because they’ve seen too many things, and of course in the newspapers they only put [negative] things. The good side is huge … So now, everybody’s talking about Africa, and probably something will happen. I hope so.”
If Sozzani sounds like an unlikely choice to be the ambassador for empowering Africa it’s probably because you remember Vogue Italia’s white model in blackface next to taxidermied safari animals in March’s issue. Before that it was the “Haute Mess” editorial in March 2012 with stereotypical caricatures of Black women. And in 2011 it was the “slave earrings” featured on the magazine’s website. All of these racist and offensive fashion choices were made under Sozzani’s leadership.
Campbell is right. Vogue Africa is long overdue. But Africa is a huge continent, not a homogenous country. It'd be hard to have a Vogue Africa embody all of Africa.
And Sozzani as the editor shouldn’t be mentioned as a possible editor-in-chief. Sozzani’s focus should be on fixing the racism she continuously displays on the pages of Vogue Italia.