Some might say the meaning was lost in translation, while others are calling it insensitive and racist. Whatever the reasoning, it seems far fetched that in 2011 Vogue Italia would make the editorial mistake of calling a pair of large, gold-hooped earrings ”>“slave earrings”.
The feature was published August 5 on the “Shop The Trend” section of Vogue Italia website. A model is shown wearing gold-hooped earrings from the designer Demetri’s spring/summer 2011 collection, with a short description written by Vogue writer Anna Bassani.
Jewellery [sic] has always flirted with circular shapes, especially for use in making earrings. The most classic models are the slave and creole styles in gold hoops.
If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern United States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom. Colored stones, symbolic pendants and multiple spheres. And the evolution goes on.
After days of criticism and public backlash Vogue Italia’s editor-in-chief, Franca Sozzani, released a statement to The Telegraph blaming the slave description as error in translation, “We apologise for the inconvenience. It is a matter of really bad translation from Italian into English. The Italian word, which defines those kind of earrings, should instead be translated into ‘ethnical style earrings’. Again, we are sorry about this mistake which we have just amended in the website”.
Today, Vogue Italia has changed the title of the editorial section featuring the large gold hooped accessories to “ethnic earrings.”
Vogue Italia is famed for tackling controversial fashion topics head-on. The July 2008 issue of the magazine was entirely dedicated to black girls and their website hosts a ‘V Black’ section dedicated to black models, along with ‘V Curvy’ aimed at plus-size women.
Last week the German-based skin care line Nivea was also accused of releasing a racially offensive print advertisement. The ad featured a black man throwing away a version of himself sporting a big Afro, beard and mustache, with the tagline reading, “Look Like You Give A Damn…Re-Civilize Yourself.”
Nivea subsequently removed the ad and released a statement of apology on Facebook.