THE DARK SIDE – “It is necessary to confront vague ideas with clear images,” reads one of French director Jean-Luc Godard’s most famous lines, featured in his “La Chinoise” movie.
Vogue Italia seemed to have missed the Nouvelle Vague memo as a beachwear trend concept turned in an ambiguous cover shoot for its May issue, sparking discussions on social media.
The makeup choice and excessive digital post-production were not welcomed favorably by the model’s fans on Instagram, who accused the magazine of altering her skin tone in an attempt to make her “darker,” pointing out a wrong casting choice for the shooting theme and a general lack of diversity in the industry.
Responding to the backlash, on Thursday Hadid posted an image and an extensive caption both on her Twitter and Instagram accounts.
“This is a photo of me returning home from shooting my Italian Vogue cover on April 3rd…you can see the level I had been bronzed to on set that day. Please understand that my control of a shoot 1. is nonexistent in terms of creative direction 2. ends completely when I leave set, and anything done to a photo in post is out of my control fully. The bronzing and photoshop is a style that S.Klein has done for many years and I believe was what was expected from the shoot (to show me in a different way creatively). BUT, although I understand what Vogue Italia’s intentions were, it was not executed correctly, and the concerns that have been brought up are valid.”
“I want to address this for those who were offended by the editing/retouching/coloring of the cover. Please know that things would have been different if my control of the situation was different,” continued the model.
“Regardless, I want to apologize because my intention is never to diminish those concerns or take opportunities away from anyone else, and I hope this can be an example to other magazines and teams in the future. There are real issues regarding representation in fashion – it’s our responsibility to acknowledge those issues and communicate through them to work towards a more diverse industry. xG.”
Also on Thursday, Vogue Italia released a statement through its Instagram profile to address the accusations.
“Throughout its history, Vogue Italia has respected and encouraged the creative viewpoints of commissioned photographers. In our latest cover shoot by Steven Klein, the vision was to create a beachwear-themed story with a stylized bronzing effect. We understand that the result has caused some debate with our readers, and we sincerely apologize if we have caused any offence,” read the statement.
The apology raised about 300 reactions, with comments spanning from reiterating the racial issue to defending the magazine’s creative choice.
“Weak apology. What are you going to do to fix it? Are you going to be inclusive and hire more models of color or will it be business as usual? The people want results not apologies any more,” read one comment.
“You have done nothing wrong at all,” said another user. “This is not racism. Racism is a serious topic and people seem not to understand it anymore. People should stop to see racism where it isn’t and start to see it where it actually is! It’s scandalous this magazine had to apologize for unfounded accusations.”
In general, most remarks focused on the excessive use of Photoshop, which disguised Hadid’s recognizable face. “In terms of editing, the other major issue that’s being overlooked is that the photo looks NOTHING like [Hadid]…it’s not just the tan, it’s how much they’d photoshopped you in general,” commented a user, while another echoed “it doesn’t look like Gigi anymore, it’s like someone else.”
In 2015, Vogue Italia and Gigi Hadid received similar complaints from fans and readers as the model fronted the November issue styled in a darker skin tone and colorful Afro-style wigs.