The French version of Elle magazine is causing an uproar around the world, because a writer for the magazine’s web site, Nathalie Dolivo, claimed that America’s first family is generating a “black fashion renaissance” by supposedly inspiring blacks to be stylish for the first time in history.
In her blog post titled, “Black Fashion Power,” Dolivo indicates that the Obamas have finally given the black community a “chic” option other than “streetwear codes.”
According to the Daily Mail, Dolivo wrote that, “Michelle Obama sets the tone, focusing on cutting-edge brands… revisiting the wardrobe of Jackie O. in a jazzy way.” She then implies that this “jazzy way” includes shells, African robes, and other purely ethnic items that are clearly not in evidence in the first lady’s wardrobe.
Dolivo also cites 2012 presicely as the moment that Michelle Obama magically inspired blacks to stop uniformly wearing hip-hop gear. She then suggested that there are “white codes” that Mrs. Obama has supposedly helped blacks to adopt. Dolivo celebrates this white-washing of black fashion history by coining the awful phrase “black-geosie” to describe what most would agree is not at all a new trend.
The original post on the Elle France web site.
Backlash against Dovilo’s comments on fashion sites have been harsh.
Fashion site The Gloss responded with: “French Elle writer Nathalie Dolivo is so happy about black people! She’s thrilled that they’ve finally learned to dress well! Yes, after generations mired in baggy pants and rap music and such, they finally have Barack and Michelle Obama to look to. Thanks, Obamas!”
Black women’s site Clutch Magazine countered with: “After years of contributions to the fashion world, it’s sad that many STILL cling to such tired, stereotypical notions of black people.”
Readers of the original post on the Elle France blog (which has been taken down) were also less than enthused about Dovilo’s views. Indeed, as soon as she posted the essay, many readers commented in an angry uproar.
One reader called the post: “GROTESQUE, SHAMEFUL, and USELESS. White dress codes? Did I really read white dress codes..?”
Another wrote: “You really think we waited until the Obamas to know style and let go of our ‘street wear’ proclivities?”
One reader expressed her bitterness over the persistent racism evidenced in her culture by this post, stating: “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?”
What might be most shocking is the fact that this is hardly the first example of racist attitudes exhibited by the overwhelmingly white high fashion world in recent months. Earlier this month, American designer Micheal Kors was accused of racism for his inclusion of apparently destitute Africans as a backdrop for an advertising shoot.