I recently wrote a blog post featuring Numéro Magazine’s March 2013 editorial featuring Ondria Hardin titled ‘African Queen’, where I detailed my views on the effects of those images and questioned the use of a white 16 year old model who had to be ‘bronzed’ black. Although my views were in no way formed in anger or confusion, I completely understand that it had the direction of questioning the creative teams racial motives and intentions.
Well today, I received an email from Numéro Magazine stating:
“Following the last article published on your website concerning the fashion shoot called “African Queen” with Sebastian Kim in our Numéro March issue, Nathalie Ayache, Numero’s director and Sebastian Kim wanted to respond to the discrimination accusations against our magazine.”
Within the two press releases attached to the email, the photographer himself (Sebastian Kim) stated:
“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
To which the Magazine added:
“For its part, Numéro Magazine, which has the utmost respect for this photographer’s creative work, firmly excludes that the latest may have had, at any moment, the intention to hurt readers’ sensitivity, whatever their origin.
Numéro Magazine considers that it has regularly demonstrated its deep attachment to the promotion of different skin-colored models. For instance, the next issue of Numéro for Man on sale on 15th march has the black model Fernando Cabral on the cover page, and the current Russian edition’s cover of our magazine features the black model Naomi Campbell on its cover. This demonstrates the completely inappropriate nature of the accusations made against our magazine, deeply committed to the respect for differences, tolerance and more generally to non-discrimination.
Considering the turmoil caused by this publication, the Management of Numéro Magazine would like to apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this editorial.”
Although I still believe they could have used “tanned, golden skin” model to portray their particular aesthetic, I accept racial discrimination was not at the heart of the creative teams goals and with all honesty, I feel for Sebastian Kim whose purpose was defeated with all initial glances of the title, finalised by the magazine.
Regardless and with colour issues aside, I love the ‘fashion’ direction and styling of the shoot and I do believe that the photography is beautiful.
Thank you Sebastian & Numéro Magazine for taking the time to respond.