• Elle France Causes Uproar with Article on “Black Fashion Power”

    In a a recent article, Elle France writer Nathalie Dolivo attempts to delve into the world of black fashion, writing that black women use fashion as a ‘political weapon,‘ and have ‘returned to style as a source of dignity.’

    Citing the Obamas as the inspiration for this “ black fashion renaissance,” Dolivo says, “Michelle Obama sets the tone, focusing on cutting-edge brands….revisiting the wardrobe of Jackie O in a jazzy way.” She continues to write that while black women in the 30’s wore flapper dresses, and women in the 60’s were inspired by Angela Davis, black women of 2012 constitute a ‘black-geosie‘, integrating all the ‘white codes‘ of dress while adding twists like african print turbans and shell neckaces (!!!).
    Her ethnographic research admittedly caused an uproar amongst Elle France readers, who wrote, “[This is] GROTESQUE, SHAMEFUL, and USELESS. White dress codes? Did I really read white dress codes..?” Another fervent reader said, “You really think we waited until the Obama’s to know style and let go of our ‘streetwear’ proclivities?” while another wrote, “How, in 2012, in a France where there are at least three million blacks and mixed people, can you write such nonsense? You are too kind when you write that in 2012 we have incorporated the white codes…what do you think, in 2011, we dressed in hay and burlap bags?” And the comments went on and on and on.
    Dear Magazines: This is what happens when there are no black people on staff. It’s really crazy to think this woman believed black people, particularly African Americans, didn’t start ‘dressing up’ until Michelle Obama. This poor journalist clearly didn’t do any research at all; didn’t see the impact of the Supremes and Diana Ross in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, the wardrobes of TV starlets like Clair Huxtable in the 80’s, the sartorial impact of everyone from Salt N Pepa to TLC to Aaliyah in the 90’s and naughts. The truly flustering passage was when she attributed black modern dress to white dress codes, then ventured to say we ‘afro-centrize’ our looks with shells and ‘boubous’. Some of us do, some of us don’t. We are not one monolithic group to be written about like zoo animals.

    I just. Can’t.

    What do you think?

    The full article is here (it’s in French).


    Claire Sulmers is the publisher and founder of Fashion Bomb Daily, the #43 most influential style magazine in the world.

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