April 18th, 2013
Diversity, Fashion, Fashion News
Vogue Netherlands Publishes Blackface Editorial: Are We Surprised?
By The Fashion Bomb Staff

Vogue Netherlands is the latest fashion magazine to publish a ‘blackface’ editorial. The spread in question, ‘Heritage Heroes,’ is a retrospective piece featuring Marc Jacobs‘s past work for Louis Vuitton.


Why a white model had to be painted black for such a project is unknown. Each photo in the spread was supposed to illustrate the inspiration behind the clothes, and for the two looks Jacobs said were inspired by women of color (Josephine Baker and Grace Jones, respectively), Vogue Netherland’s editors thought it would be cute to paint Dutch model Querelle Jansen‘s face black.   The caption in the photo above reads:  “this collection is inspired by the style of the Parisian showgirl Josephine Baker, mixed with tribal influences.”


Part of me wants to be outraged, but a larger part is not surprised at such behavior, especially coming out of a nation that still thinks Zwarte Piet minstrelsy is completely innocent and fun. Even as early as last year, another Dutch fashion magazine, Jackie, published a style story in which they referred to Rihanna‘s sartorial tastes as ‘ultimate niggabitch,’ for which the now disgraced former editor-in-chief Eva Hoeke made a rousing non-apology.

remember this foolishness?

Remember this foolishness?

Still, I can’t help but think this whole faux pas was for attention. Let’s be real: Dutch Vogue does not get as much attention as the US, French, and even UK iterations of the glossy. Perhaps the controversial spread was put there to remind the world that Vogue Netherlands still exists? It’s just a shame (yet, not a surprise) that they had to do it at the expense of beautiful, strong black women.
What do you think?



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79 Responses to “Vogue Netherlands Publishes Blackface Editorial: Are We Surprised?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    sickening..not in a good way

  2. Coco says:

    Not surprised @ all. If they wanted a black face, they could have just FOUND ONE! There’s plenty black people on this earth. This is just shameful once again.

    I hate it when they do shit like this. *kisses teeth*

    P.S. A black person would have posed and looked BETTER than this! Chil, bye!

  3. briannaScott says:

    why do black ppl get offended at white ppl painting their faces black??? unless they say something negatively towards black ppl or make a mockery then its no big deal…I doubt east asians would be upset if their face was painted yellow..stop making a big deal if u don’t like it…don’t support it and move on

  4. MelyB says:

    I continue to be disgusted by this so-called fashion statement.

  5. Dkixx says:

    There needs to be editorials of “white face” on black models then. If they consider “black face” on white models art, then why can’t it be in reverse? I have a couple of ideas.

  6. Robin says:

    Why won’t Anna (Wintour) get her folks together?? I WISH I would pick up an American Vogue and see this foolishness. What is the obsession with blackface in fashion??? I just don’t understand it. WHY are the key players not standing up and speaking out/educating people about this?? I hate that people tip toe around these types of things in this industry. So sick of this.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ha ok. The reference to Jackie is totally useless because, yes, what she did was really disgusting. But, this article makes the Dutch look like people that do not know of the black history and what offends other people from different cultures. And, Sinterklaas (Zwarte Piet) is also misunderstood by the article writer. The meaning of the festive is that Saint Nicolaas had helpers that had to go through the chimney and that is why they are black, as in why they’re painted black, and give gifts to the poor. The origin of the feast is from Turkey.. so again, it is not a feast “devised” in The Netherlands.
    The true supposed meaning behind the photo are the tribal influences, but for some people this might’ve been offensive.
    Personally in my opinion I don’t think articles should be placed on this cool website with hatred on it..

  8. Jihan says:


    educating oneself on the history of blackface might be a good place to start in regards to understanding why it is so offensive. You could just be trolling, but hey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackface

    Also, before making grandiose statements about East Asians not caring if they are being mocked through ‘yellowface,’ some research might be helpful: http://jezebel.com/5836896/italian-fashion-editor-tapes-models-eyes-into-slants-for-vogue-japan-asian-writers-offended


    Also @ Anonymous: “But, this article makes the Dutch look like people that do not know of the black history and what offends other people from different cultures.” No, my point is THEY KNOW it’s offensive, they just don’t care, as they didn’t when they called Rihanna ‘niggabitch.’ In fact, the Dutch know a lot about black history as they were active, gleeful participants in the Slave trade. There is no excuse here AT ALL.

    “And, Sinterklaas (Zwarte Piet) is also misunderstood by the article writer. The meaning of the festive is that Saint Nicolaas had helpers that had to go through the chimney and that is why they are black, as in why they’re painted black, and give gifts to the poor.” and somehow these white helpers go down the chimney and they MAGICALLY have afros and big red lips? I’m sorry miss thing, there is NO misunderstanding. It’s minstrelsy/racist. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/12/06/zwarte-piet-black-pete-christmas-dutch-netherlands_n_2249412.html

    Not today, people. not today!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well, not a lot of people are surprised that Zoe Saldana is wearing black face to ‘portray’ Nina Simone so why would this be an issue? Same difference.

  10. Faith says:

    So tired of this!

  11. Anonymous says:

    You, we, support the people who partake is this nonsense (however indirect or minute) on the regular (Zoe Saldana, Beyonce (yes she’s done black(er) face too)) yet we cry wolf with some people. Yea..okay. For the record, I don’t think it’s right, the same way I don’t think it’s right for people to accept being lightened for the sake of appearing ‘brighter’. If you’re going to complain about one, complain about them all.

  12. fav1 says:

    @briannaScott the reason why people get offended but it is because its a mockery. If this models face was painted any color of a race that is not her own is teasing a race in a very bad way. You don’t have to say something to be “negative” the action of this being picutred and published, no one used common sense which is what you are lacking for asking “why do black ppl get offended at white people painting their faces black”The reason why its offensive is because blacks are always looked at a negative. I could careless how people say they are not racist or prejudice….there is still an underlaying feeling of “slavery” which (to me) is still prevalent. Its not cute, its not editorial, its not fashion….its disgusting and stupid.

  13. fav1 says:

    @Anonymous it is not “the same difference” its offensive that she did it too! I’m not pro Zoe Saldana ever since she did that. I don’t know her personally nor heard of her saying it but I don’t think she even acknowledges that she is of African American decent…I believe she just goes as a latina. Anyone that paints their face to mock someone else is just not right. POINT BLANK PERIOD!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I think the editors were completely stupid to do this. However, I am from Holland, I’m mixed, but I do not think that Holland should be depicted as a racist country. Yeah, you can say that Zwarte Piet is wrong, but it is seen in a different way here. Of course, it has something to do with race, but you can’t just write it off as blatant racism. It goes a little deeper than that. People in Holland are mostly ignorant when it comes to black people (especially white people who do not come in contact with black people that often, like people in the fashion business over here) and I think that that is the exact reason why things like this keep happening. Again, I am not condoning this type of behaviour (I think it’s disgusting), but I felt like I had to elaborate a little bit about this issue. Holland was involved in slavery and everything, but the history here is a little different. People do not take race that seriously in Holland and that is wrong, but there are factors that contribute to the unawareness.

  15. Nicole says:

    If you don’t know why this is disrespectful or why as African Americans or people of color genearlly, we should be offended, then please read this poem by Phillis Wheatley (Google her). FYI – She is using hyperbole.

    On Being Brought from Africa to America

    ‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
    Taught my benighted soul to understand
    That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
    Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
    Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
    “Their colour is a diabolic die.”
    Remember, Christians, Negro’s, black as Cain,
    May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.

  16. KITANA says:

    Thank you Jihan for coming and snatching those wigs, rolling over them and then backing over them in reverse! I suspect the people making those comments are non black. Perhaps they’re part of our new “diverse” crowd. Black face is offensive and primitive. if you have to ask, well, maybe you’re just as ignorant as the people who think its cute or cool. Personally, I’m sick of everyone’s obsession with black culture. Its like we’re being stalked and mocked constantly.

  17. RHONYC says:


    this just confirmed that while i currently do not own…now i will NEVER buy Louis Vuitton, AND i’m giving my Marc Jacobs ’09 tote to Dress for Success.

    done with these f*cking losers already. SMMFH :-(

  18. Soul Touch says:

    I take black face very seriously and I do not like when it’s thrown around carelessly. I respect play on colour, skintone, contrast, etc. Art is subjective. I don’t think that every use of colour is an incident of black face. People need to know their history, throwing the word around all willy nilly does nothing but take away from the seriousness of the offense. Just because someone paints their face a darker colour, different colour, and such doesn’t equate to black face…art (questionable), statement (possibly)…


    Now, this editor admits that he has darkened their faces, but doesn’t think it’s black face because he is offering it as an honour of sorts. My question to him is if you wanted to give respects to honour grace jones and josephine baker, why not just choose a black models? Why go out of your way to get a white model and then paint their face black? And please tell me where in these pics do I get any feel of Ms. Baker and Ms. Jones..am I missing something? I see a bellboy and some punk kid. Wanna know why? You’re playing games. You are attempting to push the envelope, walking the fine line. Your attention seeking is sickening because even though you don’t cross the line of actual black face, you purposely went out of your way to seek the attention by pushing the envelope.

    Granted, around the world cultural sensitivity tends to fall by the waste side. In Holland (correct me if I am wrong), most blacks are African (aside from military peeps) and what is insulting in America is different around the world and has different meanings. I will say, Americans are very sensitive and tend to throw the race card weakening it’s impact.

    I will say this though, let attention seeking Holland Vogue continue to fail in their attempts…I am more concerned about our own that are still dancing in the minstrel show and dawning the black face…Madea anyone. Now if that isn’t a stereotypical shuck and jive, I don’t know what is.

  19. Soul Touch says:

    To make my statement clear – Holland Vogue knows what they are doing.

  20. iQgraphics says:

    There are very general rules of thumb which journalists, photographers and just your average, run of the mill lay person knows
    Black face will never not be offensive (even when Zoe does it)
    Watermelons, fried chicken, monkeys, etc are offensive to the american negro.

    *accidental racist is a stupid song.

    These idiots want to be talked about, as per usual.

  21. jeda says:

    so tired and done with this…every other week its something else

  22. Anonymous says:

    As a mixed dutch girl I’d like to say that it’s wrong to judge an entire nation (the dutch) as racist when you know nothing about our culture and values. It’s these stuck up editorial people from Vogue Netherlands and Jackie that need attention. They are wrong for what they do but to make it seem that all dutch people are like this, makes you just as ignorant.

  23. S says:

    Am I surprised? in a word No. I’m confused as to why these foreign magazine editors CONTINUE to use blackface as some kind of edgy editorial statement. They know what the hell they are doing. Enough outrage has gone across the internet behind incidents like this before. These editors know this “ish” is offensive, they just don’t give a damn. People who want to claim that they are ignorant of the facts of history, specifically American history with regard to slavery. I say pick up a book, go to a library, do an internet search. History is all over the “F”-ing place. It’s there to be researched by any and all who care enough to want to know fact from BS.

    What I’d really like to see is the brave model who would be willing to be interviewed after taking a stand because he/she actually Refused to participate in such an ignorant photo shoot. I would like to see the model who would actually be just as offended and outraged and appalled that they are asked to do such a thing. I know that’s idealistic thinking on my part, but it would surely be a refreshing change. This “ish” will keep happening because money talks….always has. There’s people willing to pay big bucks to support this “ish” and people willing to accept fat pay checks to have their faces painted.

  24. Dkixx says:

    Once again, black models should wear “white face” for editorials too. K would consider that art.

  25. BlackBettyUK says:

    Thanks @Jihan for a great post. However, I get tired of educating folks and their privilege.

  26. Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous (1:10 PM) – Thank you! Funny how we view it the same way and we’re both from Holland.

  27. Jihan says:

    @both anonymous commenters. I said:

    “a larger part is not surprised at such behavior, especially coming out of a nation that still thinks Zwarte Piet minstrelsy is completely innocent and fun.”

    please indicate where this says everyone in the Netherlands is racist? If anything, I’m referring to Zwarte Piet as racist (which, I really am not here for the flimsy excuses that it is not, because… it is!).

    No one is saying your entire country is racist. I am saying, these are racist traditions, so it comes as little surprise that it would bleed over into fashion.

    Honestly, if people don’t want their actions to be labelled as racist, maybe they should stop doing them?

    food for thought.

  28. lola says:

    niggabitch though? lmao! I can’t, I seriously cannot.

  29. LaTasha says:

    Not this again. I’m so tired of this. I’ll just say this. African Americans are the most copied people on the planet. The world clearly wish they had our look(brown skin people be proud) our culture, our swag, our everything. I’m tired of fighting with the same people who clearly wish they were me. To “those people” learn to love yourself. Then you won’t have to spend so much time copying me or putting me down. Hope this helps you on your journey to self discovery. Thank you European mags for showing me in a twisted way I really do matter.

  30. lola says:

    YAAAAASSSSSSSSSSS Jihan, you better READ these clowns for filth. F-I-L-T-H. The ignorance spewing in these comments is shocking, considering the audience of this site smh I can’t, not today.

  31. koko says:

    How do I say this without being rude: “I HAAAAAAAATE and am tired of this conversation!!!”

    not because it is not relevant but because we complain and complain and im not sure anything is being DONE. im an action type of girl, even if it is in my own little way.

    for example, though i LOVE chik-fil-a, i dont f*** with them any more because of that debacle last summer. i dont believe in hate groups, sorry!

    so we are on FBD, which i LOVE, but are letters being sent to Vogue Netherlands?? Are people protesting, and not just on here. What about letters to Anna Wintour?

    as silly as it sounds, we are EXTREMELY far from Holland, and according to the anonymousi’s posts, people of color are not very prevalent there at all.
    if you live in a country where you see no one but yourself, you might…notice i say might…do reckless sh** like this and think it is going un-noticed.
    it is one thing to be wrong in your own niche, but it is something else entirely to be wrong AGAIN, knowing the world disagrees with your “artistic” point of view. and i use artistic veeerryy lightly.

    so are we gonna write some letters?? are we gonna start a petition on line?? because this is not gonna be on cnn. its only gonna be on here.
    i hope people understand what im saying…

  32. Anonymous says:

    It does not say that everyone in Holland is racist no, but everyone (we grow up as kids loving this holiday) celebrates Sinterklaas (Zwarte Piet). It seems like all of us who celebrate this holiday and ‘honor’ the tradition are racist. Once again, people don’t actually associate Zwarte Piet with black people generally speaking – but I guess that is hard to believe from the outside looking in. And you also talked about the Rihanna-article and that had nothing to do with Zwarte Piet or blackface. To me, you implied that (most) people here think that those things are normal. I also don’t think they drew inspiration from Zwarte Piet, but I guess we will never know that for sure.

  33. thetruthhurts says:

    SO over it! They want to be us so bad just admit it already sheesh! They hate us so much but admire our beauty daily. #overit we get it white people you want to be black! Just admit it already !

  34. Soul Touch says:

    @Anonymous 3:02

    I get tradition…but tradition is not always good. Who is Zwarte Piet aka Black Pete? One would say that is a harmless festive figure or an oppressive racist incarnation.

    Let’s look at the history…Zwarte Piet is the pageboy to Santa or as you call him Sinterklaas (correct me if I am wrong). The story goes is that they deliver presents together to good boys and girls, and if you are bad, Black Pete will take you away to Spain. Now if you consider his subservient role to Santa….with his ‘blackface’, “Moorish costume and devious entertaining skills, he resembles all the negative representations of black people in the 20th century including minstrels and golliwogs”. His job, as the story goes, is to amuse the children…a joker per say. But the original story says he is a page/servant of dark skin of a moor. When was this tale written…mid 1800s I believe…what were servants of dark skin…slaves.

    One would say it’s a harmless kids story and have no reflection of black face…but of small children that have been bullied and called Zwarte Piet?

    Performance artist Quinsy Gario wore a T-shirt saying Zwarte Piet is racist after his mother came home “trembling with rage” because she was called Zwarte Piet at work and the police attacked him.

    Don’t get it twisted, it’s not just Americans opposing the image, but Dutch people too. Commentator Greg Shapiro expressed his own fears in the Netherlands news site Dutch News that he is making his child racist after his six-year-old referred to a DHL delivery man as Zwarte Pete making him feel ashamed.

    At the end the day Zwarte Pete is a repulsive parody of a slave. The story alone tells you that, so how can it not be understood? Just because it’s ‘tradition’ doesn’t mean it’s right.

    One would say he is dark due to the soot from the chimneys.

  35. binks says:

    Nope, time and time again these people show us who they are the first time. They kniw what they are doing but just don’t care. In which we need to respond with the ultimate F U to them by hitting them in their pockets and giving them bad press in hopes to boycott them.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I said generally speaking – of course there are people out there who do associate Zwarte Piet with black people. I’m not saying it’s right and in my first comment, I said that I think the article is disgusting and that Zwarte Piet is wrong. I heard about the performance artist when it happened and we were all appalled by it. But I do think that it is viewed as a bigger problem than it is. It is not all-out racism most of the time like the use of a particular word. Most people here in general do not immediately think of Zwarte Piet in connection with black people. So yeah, they should change it and I agree with you that tradition is not always good. But I do not think it is a huge issue (Zwarte Piet), that’s all I’m saying. I think that there are some cultural differences.

  37. KimberlyLove says:

    All I will say is the more you feed ignorance, the more in festers. They just want to “appear” racist then say some half ass apology for some 15 minutes of fame but hell Numeró did it why can’t they?

  38. Dkixx says:

    Is it possible to start a petition on change.org? Does that make sense? Would it be relevant? Just want to know.

  39. bebe says:

    @ Dkixx

    Its a nice thought, and perhaps I am being pessimistic but I feel like that won’t make a huge difference. Unless we can get some serious numbers and perhaps some celebrity influence?

  40. Anonymous says:

    @Jihan I myself am from Holland. I know what the feast meaning of Sinterklaas is. It is said to be from Turkey, or Spain. Are they now offensive too towards black people? It is offensive towards us, Dutch people, to say we purposely offense people from other cultures. Really??? Because A magazine publishes this? It has something to do with us Dutch people as individuals? No.
    It seems the Vogue magazine in The Netherlands has some weird individuals writing for it.
    There is however never an excuse to offend people, whether they are caucasian or not. But this is a personal offence and THAT is wrong. This article is just misplaced on this website. It does not belong here as it is supposed to be about fashion.
    If you did not like this photo editorial why post it on the website? Leave it and let it be.

  41. Amber says:

    Vogue Netherlands is wrong. Eva Hoeke ruined her own career. Sure Zwarte Piet is a weird ‘tradition’ in the Netherlands but a lot of kids, like myself, weren’t raised to look at it as a racist thing. I completely understand your point of view on the subject, but I’m just kind of disappointed this Zwarte Piet subject had to be in this fashion blogpost to point out that it isn’t surprising that dutch people tend to be racist.

  42. Anonymous says:

    @Amber I too am dissapointed that Saint Nicolaas has to do anything with this subject.

    I think the article writer sees this behaviour as if we Dutch people do this all the time, when in fact, the magazine is just F***** with weird individuals in it. Blame them, hell, maybe they’re not even Dutch!
    Don’t bring up the Sinterklaas feast as a bad thing if you do not understand why we celebrate it or the meaning behind it, not everything you read on internet about our culture is true *sigh*……

    And when looking at the article about Rihanna, it is poorly written in Dutch. It must have been a bad terrible joke.

  43. alanoora says:

    I am from west-African, Antillean & Caribbean descent, born & raised in Holland. The fact that Zwarte piet is racist (no doubt about it whatsoever) and still remains eventhough knowing its hurtful…shows the Dutch mentality quite clearly! They dont give a f*** and instead of owning up to it they make up lies to cover the truth & continue their parade of mockery. My brother was teased as a kid during this so called festivity, they (caucasian kids) mocked him, beat him up because of his skintone. So no not for everyone this so called feast is fun or has been fun! Every year now 30 years later December brings back his pain & trauma. Dutch people need to start being real on this subject, acknowledging their contribution to slavery (that part of history is not even taught in schools here) & all my people need to stand up! Stop being fooled by lies they tell to cover the racist stuff up. A lot of people of African descent (Surinamese, Antilleans, Caribbeans) live here and are intelligent enough to see that a caricature like zwarte piet is very wrong! No one would agree if there was a “celebration” where kids had to dress up in striped pj’s with golden stars on it & a number tatted on their arm, calling a dude with a moustache Fuhrer…right? Well just as much as Jewish people deserve respect my race does too. But thats the problem they are so used to degrading us its hard to let go, how else can they continue to feel superior? And it has become so common to the world, its not even recognized as disrespect. Excuse my fellow Dutchies but as an African woman, its not okay with me! Sinterklaas would be more fun if zwarte piet is set free, slavery is over!

  44. binks says:

    Co-sign Soul Touch. Zwarte Piet is racist in and of itself just because you were raise not to think of it as racist doesn’t make it less racist. There were plenty of people raised around slavery and they probably didn’t think that was racist either but a tradition too

  45. Minnesota says:

    Tell ‘em Jihan! Educate yourself fool!

  46. Nene says:

    I’m BLACk and I was born and raised in NL. I guess I have the dutch mentality because the article in Vogue really does not face me. I know how Dutch people are and it sounds weird but they see this as art and would not directly link it to racism!!! As for the ZWARTE PIET fiasco, Its there tradition and trust me THEY WILL NEVER CHANGE IT!!!! They are stubborn people and literally don’t give a fuck about how people especially AMERICANS (black, white, purple) think about their tradition because its theirs!!!!! As for racism in general, they are just harsh people and say what they want but don’t take other feelings in consideration they do it with fat people, chinese people (they are worse with them) belgium people GERMAN PEOPLE, jewish people (they call police jews) and black people and the list goes on (THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEY ARE RACIST AT ALL!! Hiphop and black culture is VERY much alive here, there are a lot of interracial couples, The Netherlands haves many nationalities + quite a lot of black people living here (not only from Africa) So pleasse first do reasearch and also see their perspective :D I’m Done

  47. Nene says:

    DUTCH PEOPLE ARE HARSH PEOPLE IN GENERAL they do the same with chinese, fat, german, belgium, jews TURKISH, MORROCANS etc…. They dont take others people feelings in consideration I guess its part of their mentality and culture.

    I still love it over here lOL (I’m black btw)

  48. MsK says:

    Yes I agree, I think they did it for attention and are hoping for a big media outcry. Still very tasteless.

  49. Gg says:

    To label an entire nation/people as racist because of the actions of a few is wrong. We do not like it when that’s done to us, so why do it to others? Two wrongs have never made a right.

  50. Black Man says:



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