Elle Germany Releases Apology After 'Racially Insensitive' Issue Which Saw the Company Insinuate Black Models Are a Trend

Elle Germany Releases Apology After 'Racially Insensitive' Issue Which Saw the Company Insinuate Black Models Are a Trend

A series of blunders in the latest issue of Elle Germany are creating havoc for the company, who has issued an apology after being accused of being racially insensitive. These include a tagline of “black is back” atop a feature of models of color and the wrong photo of a black woman against someone else’s name.

The publication is being called “culturally insensitive” after a number of question editorial decisions. Posting a photo of Elle Germany’s models of color feature, Instagram account @diet_prada wrote:

Ironic when they, along with much of the fashion industry, have been complicit in denying visibility to black models until relatively recently.

Readers also spotted that a profile on model Janaye Furman instead featured an image of Naomi Chin Wing.

The November issue features a cover tagline of “Back to black,” with a white model on the cover. Many on Instagram have called the issue “disgusting” and “disgraceful,” with user @gracevenescaffi writing: “that’s crazy that it managed to go through all the levels of editors and made it to print."

Supermodel Naomi Campbell also posted about the issue, saying it made her “so sad to see,” and publicly offering to make clear “the guidelines of diversity” to the editorial team.

Expressing deep regret, the magazine issued a statement which included the following:

In our current issue, we are approaching the color black from different angles. As one of our topics, it was our aim to feature strong black women who work as models for the fashion industry. In doing so, we have made several mistakes for which we apologize to anyone we might have hurt. It was a mistake to use the cover line 'Back to black' which could be understood as if black persons would be a kind of fashion trend. This obviously wasn't our intention and it was our mistake not to be more sensitive about this.

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24 Comments

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

So which is it - “black is back” or “back to black”? You typed both.

He meant both. One was on the cover, the other was on an inside page.

Jeff Walsh's picture

Well since you edited the ignorant shit you said, I guess I'll edit this now

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

I didn’t edit this. They just deleted my comment.

Dana Goldstein's picture

“The black”? Seriously?

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

First I wanted to write African-American but then I realized that they may not have anything to do with America. What would you say?

Dana Goldstein's picture

I would say that I judge people not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. You may have to look up the reference.

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

Thanks for this vital piece of information but I didn’t ask how you judge people. I asked which term you’d use.

Dana Goldstein's picture

Guess you didn't look it up.

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

I’ll look it up after you answer my question. How’s that?)))

Dana Goldstein's picture

If you’d bother to look it up, you’d find out why I don’t have to answer.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

I guess for some newer generations Grace Jones never existed. Close your eyes, see, it never happened. Strange

Ryan Davis's picture

If I could photograph any famous fashion model, it would be Grace Jones. She's sooooo cool.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Total control. Unique and not afraid.

Dana Goldstein's picture

Minor point, Grace Jones is a performer not a model. Has an iconic look, but it’s her own, not that of a designer who pays her to walk in a straight line.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Debatable. Surely didn't start with her own style as a model when modeling for Yves St Laurent, but moved on quickly to her own personal style and moved to music. She never really left modeling entirely, in fact she still does some at age 71.

That's exactly what they meant. So woke.

Dennis Williams's picture

"We apologize to anyone we have hurt or offended" this is 2019 - if you cough you will offend someone. it's their life blood to be offended. Without conflict - even the most contrived- no one pays attention and now the culturally abused get fifteen minutes. German ELLE ...seriously? How many of those girls are even German that German ELLE readers will be invested? Chinese models next month? Perhaps they can put a Chinese American black guy in makeup and a push up bra on the cover next time- that should thrill the 1%.

If we are all the same, one world and all that, why is society so insistent on separating us by color? No percentages, no quotients, just book awesome models who are stunning and appeal to the customers and sell the product.

I owned Grace Jones albums when they were first released and danced to her music in the clubs - I also bought Joni Mitchell and Diana Ross - life doesn't need to be either /or it can be the best of everything. Of course then you're guilty of cultural appropriation and in trouble all over again.

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

Someone seriously needs to start a (religious) community of people who are gonna be offended when someone apologizes. The circle will close itself.

marc gabor's picture

"If we are all the same, one world and all that, why is society so insistent on separating us by color? No percentages, no quotients, just book awesome models who are stunning and appeal to the customers and sell the product."

I couldn't agree more. I don't think that drawing extra attention to certain demographics even if it is positive is a good way to combat discrimination.

That said, even if you resent PC culture you have to admit that this was really dumb of Elle Germany. It's astonishing that no one looked over the issue and said "are you sure?" They could have featured one of those models in the back to black segment wearing all black or something and the title would not have come across so poorly. They could have also featured all those models or just a mix of unique looking models, black white asian mixed race, that are killing it right now and not have to bring attention to the fact that they're all black.

I wouldn't call this blatant racism but I would say that the editors were being culturally insensitive and in poor taste

William Faucher's picture

Being the devils advocate here, I checked out Naomi and Janayes Instagrams... and I'm not entirely surprised that the wrong photo was used, they look quite alike one another, at least in the few IG posts I took a glance at. There's even a picture of the two together. Seems like an honest mistake? Not to excuse the editor, because it is their job to get it right, but not knowing who either of those two people are or what they do, I wouldn't be able to tell them apart at first glance.

Dana Goldstein's picture

But it's their job to know who is who -- they're very much supposed to be following the careers of all the successful and new models who make a splash during a particular season's shows, and they're way beyond first glances. Making sure they're then shooting with the girls who represent the zeitgeist of the season is at the heart of their job. To basically look like they can't tell two black models apart, even when it's part of their job description, looks really, really bad.