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Bronzing or blackface? Vogue Italia, Hadid apologise for cover

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Gigi Hadid and Vogue Italia have both apologised for the May Vogue Italia cover that shows the model with a dark skin tone, a distortion that unleashed a social media backlash over the lack of diversity in the fashion industry.

Key points:

  • Hadid said diversity in the industry needed to be addressed and concerns were valid
  • Social media likened the cover to 19th-century 'blackface' minstrels that mocked black people
  • Vogue Italia said the editing was for a bronzing effect, but it understood the concerns

In a post on Instagram on Thursday, Hadid said diversity in the industry needed to be addressed and that she did not want "to take opportunities away from anyone else".

External Link: @septemburisse: "Sozzani's Vogue Italia made history with The All Black Issue, calling out the lack of diversity in the industry. Farneti's Vogue Italia gave us black face GiGi Hadid. Shame."

The cover shot by Steven Klein shows the normally blonde Hadid with dark hair and heavily bronzed skin, wearing a Dolce & Gabbana sequined legging ensemble with matching tiara.

Inside, Hadid poses in beachwear in the spread titled 'High Voltage'.

Hadid said the photo shoot that also included digital editing of the photo "was not executed correctly" and agreed that the concerns raised were "valid".

Social media posts decried the dark skin tone, many likening it to the blackface minstrels of the 19th century that promoted racial stereotypes.

Others pointed out that Vogue Italia under its previous editor, the late Franca Sozzani, was a prominent advocate for racial diversity in fashion, notably with its famed 'All Black' cover in 2008.

"I want to address this for those who were offended by the editing/retouch/colouring of the cover … Please know that things would have been different if my control of the situation was different," the model said.

"Regardless, I want to apologise because I never want to diminish these concerns."

Blonde model Gigi Hadid is seen posing for a photo at an HBO film premiere.

'Gigi was meant to look bronze, nothing more than that'

Vogue Italia said Mr Klein's "vision was to create a beachwear-themed story with a stylised bronzing effect".

External Link: @patti_wilson: "patti_wilson@gigihadid #HighVoltage."

"Throughout its history, Vogue Italia has respected and encouraged the creative viewpoints of commissioned photographers."

But the fashion magazine added that it understood the issues it ignited among its readers.

"We sincerely apologise if we have caused any offence."

Italian Vogue contributing editor Patti Wilson presented a different viewpoint on the controversial cover.

"As a black woman and as a contributing editor-at-large of Italian Vogue I wanted to take a moment to address the Gigi Hadid May cover comments I've been seeing," Ms Wilson wrote in an Instagram post.

"It's a summer issue … it's a swimwear story … Gigi was meant to look bronze, tan, and gorgeous … nothing more than that.

"Throughout my career, I've championed models of all ethnicities and have always fought for diversity in this industry … I celebrate women of all colour."

In 2015, a Vogue Italia cover featuring Hadid wearing an afro wig raised controversy on social media, as users asked why models of colour were not being cast instead.

AP/ABC

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