• ‘African Queen’ Photographer Sebastian Kim Responds to the Blackface Controversy

    After a firestorm of comments in response to the ‘African Queen’ editorial featuring white model Ondria Harmon, shoot photographer Sebastian Kim took to his agency Jedroot’s blog to offer an explanation.
    08 Ondria Hardin for Numéro #141 March 2013 in African Queen
    He said:

    I would like to apologize for any misunderstanding around my recent photos for Numero France. It was never my intention (nor Numero’s) to portray a black woman in this story. Our idea and concept for this fashion shoot was based on 60′s characters of Talitha Getty, Verushka, and Marissa Berenson with middle eastern and Moroccan fashion inspiration. We at no point attempted to portray an African women by painting her skin black. We wanted a tanned and golden skin to be showcased as part of the beauty aesthetic of this shoot.

    It saddens me that people would interpret this as a mockery of race. I believe that the very unfortunate title “African Queen” (which I was not aware of prior to publication) did a lot to further people’s misconceptions about these images. It was certainly never my intention to mock or offend anyone and I wholeheartedly apologize to anyone who was offended.


    Sebastian Kim

    04 Ondria Hardin for Numéro #141 March 2013 in African Queen
    Take a look at the shoot was apparently inspired by:


    Talitha Getty
    Talitha Getty
    Marisa Berenson
    Marisa Berenson

    The ladies are certainly tanner than most, but nowhere near the bronze/brown glow apparent on Ms. Hardin.
    05 Ondria Hardin for Numéro #141 March 2013 in African Queen
    Perhaps the ‘darkening’ and “African Queen’ moniker were added later.  So maybe Mr. Kim shouldn’t be the one apologizing.
    What do you think?


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

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