Chanel’s Color World Christmas Calendar features black women as

Chanel’s editorial team on the photo shoot for the forthcoming the Color World Christmas Calendar is an interesting group of black women who vary in their experience and past fashion work. In 2015, photographer Nancy Paul has the distinct honor of being the first black model to do a Chanel campaign, but along with her strong black female role models come several other influential individuals from the fashion industry with prominent historical figures in their own right. These include Kailen Rosenberg (also a model), the photographer Alexandra Lauber, costume designer Kamala Harris and videographer Gina Tourette. A wider range of women in the modeling and photography community can be seen in a video compiled by B

chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld for a February 16 Facebook Live session celebrating Black History Month. After expressing his admiration for Harris, Lagerfeld called women in the video as the foundation for Chinese fusion fashion. He seemed to use these diversity in the group from very different vantage points and therefore implies the entire Chanel team was comprised of “superwomen”, suggesting a positive representation of women of color.

However, the makeup looks for these individuals on set and in the editorial are startlingly different from the ones worn by New York-based anime artist or video game artist Aoi Eiko. Eiko is known for her style that blends mermaids, butterscotch candy, old maples and greenery. Her looks often end up in illustrations of leotards and platforms, buter and cropped trousers. With this in mind, one would expect her look to seem much more natural and feminine, but that’s not what one would expect to see on the Chanel runway and in the photo shoot. Eiko’s avatar is one of the other poster children for what artistic appropriation can look like.

There are many nuanced issues with the image but it can be argued that showcasing a fashion-forward approach as a positive step is getting both of these things across. However, things got messy when Latoya Peterson turned to her Facebook page to express her disagreement with Chanel’s approach in light of the company’s history of the appropriation of black history:

Many put forth a simple argument of why Chanel is on of the more successful luxury fashion houses. It was founded in 1925 by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and traces back to the founding of its fashion division to push back against the prevailing wartime ideals of military uniforms and male-dominated polish. While the luxury aesthetic has retained its power in today’s fashion world, Chanel’s recent aspirations were revealed to be a source of strain, something it pledged to address after WWD detailed several recent, high-profile fashion plagiarisms and chains that may have hurt the industry as a whole, especially as it grew overseas.

For the last 24 hours, the Chanel team on Chanel’s social media outlets have been forced to defend their image choices by responding to e of its major influencers, including celebrity makeup artist Micaela Erlanger. A long and ongoing disagreement about how to hold on to history has served to spark these strong feelings. Many of the most vocal critics also point out that Chanel is not alone in resorting to such copied imagery or erasing cultural beauty nuances in order to achieve the trends, particularly when it comes to young women. Not surprisingly, the same spirit of variety was present on the team photos.


However, just as often, the question of the context of these choices is being raised. After the headline became controversial, Chanel quickly posted a clarifying post on its Facebook account with the following message:

I understand that some people are not pleased by the Chanel color world Christmas calendar. While I was personally not involved in selecting or selecting who shot these pictures we are committed to making sure it represents the Chanel vision for 2019.

It is clear that Chanel has attempted to carefully differentiate this editorial and its intent from the past practice of using black cultural imagery as an equaliser. However, recent instances prove it is likely only a matter of time before such practices become outdated and resurface again.

Another interesting finding of Chanel’s December 2018 media blitz is the fact that in the last 24 hours the Instagram handle – @chanel – has been the most followed account of the brand overall, ahead of the brand’s official account. This could mean that Chanel’s modeling team can boast of a large reach within the Asian-American, Asian-white and interracial communities.

In the longer run, this doesn’t necessarily mitigate the ripples from these choices. The powerful performances and influential voices of such black women as Wang and Eiko are

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