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'Elle' Germany Did Literally Everything Wrong in This Attempt to Highlight Black Models

Starting with calling the feature “Black is back.”

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Not a good look, @ellegermany . For their November 2019 issue, the presumably white-led publication declares that “black is back”. Ironic when they, along with much of the fashion industry, have been complicit in denying visibility to black models until relatively recently. Oh, and apparently they can’t actually tell models apart. In the bottom middle, a picture of @naomichinwing is used in place of @iam_janaye . And @joansmalls has been around for a minute/hasn’t gone anywhere lmao. The issue, titled “Back to Black”, also features a white model on the cover. You can’t make this stuff up! • #elle #ellemagazine #ellegermany #naomichinwing #janayefurman #models #blackmodels #modelsofcolor #runway #fashionweek #fashionmonth #pfw #nyfw #mfw #lfw #paris #london #milan #nyc #wtf #fail #magazine #print #editorial #editor #editorinchief #media #sabinenedelchev #dietprada

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We’re once again in the unfortunate situation of reporting another failed, deeply offensive attempt by people in the fashion industry to highlight ethnic diversity. And this one is especially baffling.

On Tuesday, Diet Prada posted a page from the November 2019 issue of Elle Germany with a feature on “models of color” with the coverline “Black is back” at the top. Yes, “Black is back,” as if being Black is a trend that cycles in and out of fashion. “Black is back” appears to be the theme of the entire issue, mostly referring to the color in terms of clothing, but clearly the editors of Elle Germany decided they’d just fold some human beings into the trend.

And it doesn’t end there: As Diet Prada notes, the magazine couldn’t even keep those human beings straight, misidentifying Naomi Chin Wing as Janaye Furman. It also made an odd choice in highlighting Joan Smalls alongside a group of relative newcomers, given that she’s a modeling veteran at this point (and has hardly taken a break from runway appearances).

Photo via Fashion Model Directory

To make things even worse, the issue features a thin white model on the cover, as is pretty much always the case with Elle Germany, a magazine that clearly has no interest in hiring Black models and only features them in its pages when it fits a trend.

It’s another case of the how-did-multiple-people-see-this-and-think-it-was-ok mystery. And another step backward for genuine inclusivity in the industry. A rep for Elle Germany did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

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