Thursday, April 15, 2010

I just need a moment on my soapbox

So I recently learned about how last year Paris Vogue put together a little thing ('ll get the joke in a second....) called Vogue Enfants. And for the most part - even though loads of people out there probably hummmed and haawed at how realistic it is that children actually give a badword about fashion - it was REALLY FREAKING CUTE. Like, the sort of thing that leaves you SO SURE that lots and lots of fashionable people got on the baby-making train just because they were all squeamish and excited about the idea of dressing THEIR model fashiony kid in fashiony kid clothing. Here are some photos of the aforementioned cuteness:

I mean, did you not just DIE over the cute couture of it all?? It's like a serious dose of baby bourgeoisie. But then, like all good things, it kind of came to an end and my joy did not you remember when I just said this thing was awesome 'for the most part'?? Well, here is why I feel that way:

I need to talk about why I do not like this photo. With love from globalization, designers have had a supreme opportunity to learn from different cultures, find inspiration in their dress, colours and traditions and then use that inspiration to make really REALLY beautiful stuff. The Aboriginal peoples of North America (which is the group I believe this photo is based on) are certainly a culture filled with an uncountable number of beautiful traditional outfits from which an equally uncountable number of inspirations can be found. But this photo is not about inspiration, and that hand gesture by the kid on the right makes it, in my opinion, insensitive.

I know this is just one photo and I am sure many people out there did not see a problem with this, but hear me out. This wasn't a CELEBRATION of Aboriginal culture, instead, it stereotyped it. And while I know that one of fashion's greatest traits is to be edgy and push the limits (and maybe a few buttons), if it has the potential to both offend and alienate a large group of people while commercializing stereotypical representations of their culture isn't that kind of NOT beautiful and stylish?? 

I want to also say that by no means do I think anyone who was involved in producing this photo is a bad person or that they did something ignorant, stupid, wrong, etc. Paris Vogue is an AMAZING publication that time and time again produces truly wonderful fashion journalism and photography. The purpose of this post is just to put the idea out there of the importance of remaining critical and respectful when it comes to every day fashion media.

So while I think it is important that we look to other cultures to find new ways to create and be inspired, I think it is EQUALLY important that we remain critical of how we do it.

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