Friday, July 31, 2015

Elle Magazine - August 2015 - "The Africa Issue"

Super excited and honoured to be featured in this month's Elle Magazine alongside some of my favourite creatives and influencers.  What is a tad curious is that the issue was named, "The Africa Issue".  The piece that I have been featured in specifically is called "The New Fashion Influencers" (lol!) but we are not going to discuss that right now and rather skip straight to the topic of the so-called "Africa Issue". 
On the surface, I can understand why some editor somewhere would have thought pulling together an issue solely dedicated to African stories/ artists/ fashion/ music etc would be a great idea given how "topical" Africa is right now in creative circles but, what is disturbing is how an African issue in Africa is still considered the "new new" or "the other".  Why do we need to call out that it is "The Africa Issue"? Surely by sheer virtue of being a magazine in Africa it should  be implied? Social media has been abuzz with confusion as people have rightly been questioning, "if this is the Africa Issue, what were all the others?".  This is by no means an indictment on the Elle Magazine SA editorial team (which has really come along way in terms of transformation since some of my earlier shoots) - but rather a real live example of how everyday we need to guard against reverse cultural assimilation and how our language and descriptions of ourselves further propagate the myth of Euro-supremacy.  We are not the "other", particularly on our own continent and it's about time that the local and international media becomes aware of this. 

The next curious thing about The Africa Issue was the stylist/ fashion editor's choice to not represent the cover girl, Pearl Thusi, in a manner that even slightly eluded to Africa.  She is wearing all white (Calvin Klein, TopShop & LV), has had her hair straightened and in fact, looks less African than I have EVER seen her look.  The fashion editorial is even more bizarre - not a single African designer's clothing was used and it seems to intentionally be the most Eurocentic shoot of all time.  It is styled well (not life changing but well) and Pearl looks radiant and strikingly beautiful as usual but this particular cover and fashion editorial is misplaced and might have been better suited for "The Europe Issue".  
It's not all bad news and cultural faux pas' though, all in all, there are some great articles in this issue and you should definitely get it, not just because I'm in it (ok, maybe a little bit) but because there is a lot to learn and love about African design and creativity and it's great to find it in one place.


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