It should come as no surprise that major players in the fashion and beauty industry have problems with racial sensitivity. The transgressions of the people in the most prominent postitions are exposed with disconcerting regularity.
Last week, Elle France's beauty editor Jeanne Deroo posted a picture of herself dressed us as fashion muse Solange Knowles. While no one can fault Deroo for her desire to tribute Solo's brilliant style, but her decision to paint herself brown was wholly unnecessary. Deroo clearly found nothing wrong in her action as she wore the costume to a party and posted the photo to her public Instagram page.
It seems Deroo believed that her costume would be embraced as a sincere form of flattery rather than a hearkening to old racial stereotypes. She released this statement after controversy began to erupt.
I realise how much the fact of painting oneself brown is an offensive act. I didn’t realise the seriousness of my action when I went to a private party last Saturday evening, which the theme was “Icons”, and where I chose to embody Solange Knowles, of whom I am a fan. During this private party, I posted a picture of myself on my Instagram without intention of hurting anyone. I deeply regret and would like to present all my apologies. I would also like to indicate that this picture published in a private context does not involve in any way the french ELLE magazine I work for, and I am sorry for the prejudice it has caused.
This is clearly a case of needing more Black colleagues, friends or acquaintances. France does not have the same history race relations as the United States; however, the country continues to struggle with integration and acceptance of its Black countrymen. Deroo's ignorance translated into a racist act.
The insularity of the fashion world allows for these "mistakes" to continue to happen, but they also reveal how far women and men of color are from full acceptance in the industry. Instead of begging for fashion industry scraps (a la Kanye West) we have to continue to fight to create accurate representations of ourselves.
So while we have every right to be outraged over the ignorance these types of displays highlight. We might also see them as a call to action. We can create for ourselves.
[Fashion Bomb Daily]
Kimberly Foster is the Founder and Editor of COLOURES. Email or Follow @KimberlyNFoster