Numéro magazine responds to my latest post on Numéro Magazine’s “African Queen” editorial featuring Ondria Hardin. I detailed my views on the images and use of a white aged 16 model who had been ‘bronzed’ black. Although my opinions 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 apologise 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.aIt saddens me that people would interpret this as a mockery ofrace. 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
Numéro Magazine’s Response
“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.”
IGORANCE v RACISM v IGNORANCE
I can accept that racial discrimination was possibly not at the heart of the creative teams goals but likely ignorance. But I still believe Sebastian & Numéro Magazine could have used a real “tanned, golden skin” model to portray their particular aesthetic. Also, I somewhat feel for Sebastian Kim whose vision was derailed with the title, decided by the magazine.
Colour issues aside, I do certainly appreciate the styling of the shoot. I do also believe that the photography is beautiful but I just hope the lesson is also.
Finally, Thank you Sebastian & Numéro Magazine for taking the time to respond.