French magazine Numéro, which drew criticisms of its "African Queen" spread for using a white model with darkened skin in the fashion editorial, sent the Huffington Post an apology for the move. Instead of hiring any of the Black models available through 16-year-old Ondria Hardin's reps at the Ford Modeling Agency, they decided to paint the North Carolina teen in brown makeup and dress her in a print jumpsuit and chunky accessories. The magazine maintains that it gave the photographer artistic freedom and it wasn't their intention to offend the public.
"The artistic statement of the photographer Sebastian Kim, author of this editorial, is in line with his previous photographic creations, which insist on the melting pot and the mix of cultures, the exact opposite of any skin color based discrimination. Numéro has always supported the artistic freedom of the talented photographers who work with the magazine to illustrate its pages, and has not took part in the creation process of this editorial."
Kim also reiterated that neither he nor the publication intended to mock anyone's race, stating that they never meant to portray a Black woman in the editorial.
"Our idea and concept for this fashion shoot was based on '60s characters of Talitha Getty, Verushka and Marissa Berenson with middle eastern and Moroccan fashion inspiration. We at no point attempted to portray an African woman by painting her skin black. We wanted a tanned and golden skin to be showcased as part of the beauty aesthetic of this shoot."
Jezebel recently reported that 82 percent of models used during New York Fashion Week were white, while only six percent were Black. Then along comes yet another glossy that further supports the notion that Black models are still being overlooked in the industry despite the talent that exists in the pool.
What do you think about Numéro's choice to use a Caucasian model for an African-themed spread and the subsequent apologies? Sound off in the comments.
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(Photo: Numéro Magazine)