After Gucci and Prada, Vogue Brazil has become the modern fashion brand which received criticisms and backlash in the growing issue of cultural and racial insensitivity after controversial photos surfaced from style director Donata Meirelles’ birthday party.
Meirelles, the Vogue Brazil fashion director, celebrated her 50th birthday with an expensive dinner party in Salvador de Bahia, northeast Brazil, where photos of black women in traditional dress welcoming and ushering guests, while others were posing next to her seat on a throne caused an uproar among social media users.
The main photo which showed Meirelles sitting on a throne with a black woman on either side of her was posted by Journalist Fabio Bernardo, which believed to evoke slavery and angered people online.
Roberto Sakiyama is one of the many online media users who said that the photo clearly and unfortunately emphasized Brazil’s autocracy and slavery where black people acted as servants and whites were lords. While Rita Batista, a black female TV presenter from Salvador de Bahia explained the historical content that had angered many people. She posted a shot from the party next to an image of two nineteenth century slaves tending their owners following a caption ‘the slave herself was a luxury object to be shown publicly”.
The outcry over the alleged similarities with slavery urged an apology from Meirelles who denied using any images associated with slavery. She wrote on her Instagram that ‘it wasn’t a theme party, but if it looked otherwise, I’m sorry” she said.
Meirelles, a trendsetter who is married to advertising executive Nizan Guanaes and a mother to socialite Helena Bordon, is known for her extravagant parties attended by international designers and photographers.
Vogue is not the only fashion giant criticize for cultural insensitivity. In early February, Gucci also faced issues of racial insensitivity after issuing a balaclava sweater that resembled a black face. Meanwhile Prada luxury fashion house suffered its controversy last December when it displayed some items in a Manhattan storefront which believed to depict blackface imagery.
The fashion world is facing controversies especially on issues like racism and cultural differences. Meirelles’ party is the latest controversy that the magazine group was involved in.
Aside from its director, Vogue also apologized for any misrepresentation the said party has caused. And they even promised that the generated discussions both in online media and print would serve as a learning opportunity for the company and its management.