What do you think of this beauty shoot?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012






I recently bought my monthly issue of Marie Claire South Africa.  I sat down to read it and enjoyed the Kate Moss cover, the cover story, the fashion stories and all the other usual stuff that MC gets right more than 95% of the time. It's one of the few local magazines I make a point to purchase each month because I feel the publication speaks the language of the modern gentlewoman.  

However, I stopped. Semi- aghast in all senses of the word. Wondering what it is I was looking at when I saw the above beauty shoot which also showcases Prada's 2012 Resort Collection.  After reading and contemplating, I showed my friends the shoot and asked them what they thought. One is an award winning artist. One a lecturer in Art. One a stylist and the other a photographer.  I couldn't read their thoughts beyond their expressions of narrowed eyebrows, compressed eyelids and pursed lips.    

There are some great elements in the shoot.  Like the concept, some of the clothing and the lips in the first and fourth picture. The rest, I really don't think was executed well at all.  The first and continuous thought while looking at the shoot was that it seemed like some non-black person wanted to see what all these amazing pops of colour look on a black person and just applied them for fun, as a test, as if playing dress up at home. Yes we know that bright colours look better on black skin, but in moderation.  This otherwise beautiful model in these images looks like the cross between a golliwogg and a minstrel. Like no consideration was applied to whether black women could actually wear these looks and be taken seriously.  Was it a display of the actual colours against a skin that would expose them the best? Because if it was, then they have done the colours justice. They are beautiful colours.  But together, I believe they are offensive to the intelligence of anyone who would want to apply them together in this way. 

Am I being too harsh? What are your thoughts?

7 comments:

Silly Girl's Dream said...

I looked at the photos before I read your thoughts. Looking at the first photo I thought I have never seen yellow look that bright on any skin..I then decided I would never wear that colour and expect not to be treated like a clown. Like you I love MC, but the way I interpreted this shoot was like I interpret most fashion spreads; that they are art, impractical most of the time and can quite rarely be applied in "real life" as they are. What I take from it is the general tone intended..bright colours for eyes and lips but certainly not the colours depicted here..maybe a less harsher coral than the one the model is wearing. I don't think you are being harsh; I think this is your interpretation and that has opened up a debate. The model's skin tone is just divine. On a different note; I read your blog daily.. X

Unknown said...

i saw this myself and i thought "so why did they make this girl look like a clown?" i'm no fashion fundi by any means but i found this shoot to be offensive when i saw it. i dont like when black models are made to look like caricatures or, like here, cartoon-like.

Thando said...

I agree with Silly Girl... not all fashion spreads are meant to be applied to our real lives, but they serve as inspirations. I did not find this spread offensive at all, but I understand why it could be to some, especially with the wide spread 'black face' controversies. I think the concept was just meant to be dreamy and artistic.

Rossouw said...

It's just photo 2 and 3 that doesn't work, I'd say. Mostly due to the shading on the eyes. But the rest are rad as a party look.

Jualferx said...

A mi personalmente me ha gustado mucho. Realmente no solo el maquillaje es discordante, también algo en el vestuario y en sus tonalidades. Pero es quizás eso lo interesante en la composición. Ademas la modelo es hermosa. Pienso que se la hicieron con estas fotografías porque para bien o para mal son un foco de atención. Un abrazo.

Ms. Overproof said...

I agree there are some elements (particularly the hat and the models pose reminded me of a lawn jockey) that seem very minstrel, almost like she is wearing 'black face' but without the black. Some of the pics make her seem almost doll like more visual art than simply fashion. It did evoke some response in me, but not sure if it's offended, appreciative or what. All the same it is provoking.

sindisokhumalo said...

Hmmmm...well I believe there is a massive disjuncture between the styling and the make up in this shoot. Also the staticity of the weave absolutely doesn't help. Styling, Hair and Make Up and Photography are all meant to work in unison, else the composition will be deemed weak. I do however like the turquoise backdrop. s.x

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