Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Will There Ever Be an African Vogue?

Do you remember when Vogue India hit the stands and Australian model Gemma Ward was front and center flanked by two presumably Indian models in what I like to call "the coveted Beyonce spot?" All I could do was laugh at how predictable that move was on the editors part.

In the months since that launch last year, Vogue India has featured a dazzling array of Bollywood actresses and models on the cover. It's as if to say, "yeah, we thought the cover on that premiere issue was lame too but we fully intend to make up for it!"

Anytime I think about that launch I wonder if an African country will ever get its own Vogue. Maybe a Vogue Nigeria or a South African Vogue.

I've debated back and forth on message boards about who would be chosen for the imaginary inagural cover. Legendary Iman? Alek Wek? Liya? Oluchi? Gemma in a safari hat?

I read an article in The Times this morning about Oluchi in which she was quoted as saying that top magazines in South Africa (like Glamour and GQ) refuse to put blacks on their covers. This in a country that is 79% black.

She said:

“As a Nigerian and an African I have done so much in my career to represent everything African in Western countries. There is a diverse group of people in South Africa, be it black, white, Asian. ...If you pick up Vogue India everything about it, from the first page to the last, is very Indian...I would like to see that in South Africa. They [magazines] need to embrace diversity and show more love ...It doesn’t give me joy to pick up a copy of South African GQ and feel like I’m reading American GQ."


This saddens me. I recall seeing the cover of South African ELLE once with a dark skinned woman on the cover and for months I tried to find an issue at various newsstands only to come up empty. I was dying to know if the cover I saw was an anomoly. So far, I'm not willing to pony up the $90 or so for a subscription to find out.

Back to my magazine fantasy...I picture two covers. The first one featuring a mix of models from all over the continent with Iman or Liya Kebede, Alek Wek or Ajuma to show the very different types of African beauty. My second thought has editors mixing it up a bit more with the likes of a Jourdan Dunn, Emanuela dePaula, Chanel Iman, Chrystelle Saint-Louis Augustin, or Damaris Lewis to illustrate how there isn't a corner of the world that hasn't been touched by this so called dark continent's beauty and influence.

Seriously, I could ponder this for hours. I am so much more satisfied by made up magazines than by their real conterparts. Maybe there's an editor out there dreaming of this launch too, and of Gemma Ward posing on an elephant for the cover.


Queen of My Castle said...

I like your concept on the magazine. Even here in The States, most of the covers are graced by our fair skinned counterparts.

If you ever launch your very own mag, keep us informed!

Camille Acey said...

This is a mighty good question. I think they had a version of Top Model in Ghana. I wonder if the people there would be interested in taking on such a project... I have so many things on my agenda for my next trip to Ghana (hopefully next year), this sounds like another one to add to the list. I'm going to start making inquiries now.

aulelia said...

Maybe we need something that isn't Vogue and does not come with the connotations of Vogue.

Camille Acey said...

I agree that it would begreat to have a non-Vogue magazine celebrating black beauty, but that already exists. Sadly, there is something really "legitimizing" about having the magazine be Vogue, the true fashion bible. The evil Deathstar ofConde Nast deeming your little corner of the world worthy of their attention in a glossy monthly format. Alas, it is jsut the way it is.

CHIC NOIR said...

The put Gemma ward on the cover of the first issue of Vogue China also. She had the Beyonce position on that cover too.

CHIC NOIR said...

Camille, if you are refering to Essence, that magazine is not what it should be nor what it once was. I think Suede was our Vogue(or as close as we got).

I find American Vogue very dull, I prefer French Vogue.

XXX said...

Why wait for a non-African to publish a glossy that represents their ideal or idea of "African Beauty"??? It won't be done justice because the Western world has already branded Africa as an entity plagued by disease, corruption, and war. That's why I commend new titles, like HauTe magazine, that show the different ideals of beauty and style emerging from this diverse continent, Africa.