Vogue has never been known to adopt the global policies that enhance the fashion capabilities of anything outside of their realm of tolerance. For instance, not too long ago, a piece was produced that attributed the latest “big butt” craze as a new phenomenon. Understandably the article was ridiculed and rebuked for its inaccuracy and blatant ignorance.
The theme continues with the latest from Vogue.com that centers on a rather cool and hip young gal with roots in Senegal, Amy Sall who attends grad school in New York City. Titled – “How One Grad Student Incorporates Her Senegalese Roots Into Her NYC Style”, Sall basically wrote a huge chunk of the piece herself, and in it she describes how she incorporates elements from her culture to create her version of multi-ethnic style blended with Western influences.
I believe in terms of being respectful, it takes more than just liking something that’s African and trying to wear it. This is their everyday dress and some things signify rituals and traditions, like the birth of a child, a funeral or a marriage. So many elements are codified within these fabrics, dresses, and necklaces. When things are appropriated, they are extracted from that context. It’s important to know what these things mean and who these people are and not just label it as fashion. It’s beautiful, but it’s not fashion, it’s culture, and a representation of individuals and history. People have to be mindful of that and take the time to learn about it.
It’s a decent offering but the issue isn’t Sall’s ability to seamlessly rock the best of both worlds but rather the fact that Vogue is once again using its subject as a defense mechanism. Instead of concentrating on Sall’s enviable fashion sense, readers are given a lesson on the relevancy of ethnic immersion.
This is not a new trend but rather a concept that Vogue seems to be having a problem internalizing and illustrating. It shouldn’t be presented or highlighted as a separate entity, especially now when African fashion and style is overtaking the industry. But it is a step in the right direction – even if it is still missing the point.
Photos: Courtesy of Amy Sall/Vogue