Updated on October 30, 2019, at 9:34 a.m.
In response to Diet Prada’s post, ELLE Germany editor in chief Sabine Nedelchev shared a statement with Teen Vogue saying, “In our current issue we approach the colour black from different angles. One of our focuses was to feature strong black women who work as fashion models. In doing so, we were guilty of several errors for which we sincerely apologize.”
“It was wrong to use the cover line ‘Back to black’ which could be misconstrued to mean that black individuals are some sort of fashion trend,” the statement continued. “This obviously was not our intention and we regret not being more sensitive to the possible misinterpretations. Misidentifying the model Naomi Chin Wing as Janaye Furman is a further error for which we apologize. We are aware of how problematic this is. This has definitely been a learning experience for us and, again, we deeply regret any harm or hurt we have unwittingly caused.”
In a post on Instagram, supermodel Naomi Campbell shared her own thoughts on the matter: “This makes me so sad to see this...your mistake[,] it is highly insulting in every way.” She continued, “I’ve said countless of times[,] we are not a TREND. We are here to STAY. It’s OK to celebrate models of color[,] but please do it in an ELEGANT and RESPECTFUL way.”
Naomi also made a point to express that she is willing to have a conversation if people are not “clear on the guide lines of diversity” and that misidentifying a black model is “disappointing.” She finished off her post by saying, “It’s very important for a publication to be culturally sensitive and give credit where it’s due. We all need to unite on this matter.”
Instagram account Diet Prada has quickly become an authority in fashion when it comes to holding brands, designers, and magazines accountable for the messages they put out. Whether it’s spilling the tea on trivial matters or calling out Dolce & Gabbana for their distasteful chopsticks ad last year, Diet Prada never shies away from shining a light on the inner workings and missteps of the fashion industry. And today, DP is calling out ELLE Germany for a fashion feature that ran in the magazine’s November 2019 issue.
This morning, DP posted a photo of ELLE Germany to its Instagram page, highlighting a feature titled “Black Is Back.” The article spotlights six prominent models of color with the caption, “Super, Girls!” DP wrote, “Not a good look, @ellegermany. [...] Ironic when they, along with much of the fashion industry, have been complicit in denying visibility to black models until relatively recently.”
In addition to the article’s title, ELLE Germany also misidentified one of the models with another woman of color. Diet Prada shows that a photo of Naomi Chin Wing is used in model Janaye Furman’s spot. As if “Black Is Back” wasn’t bad enough, the publication somehow confused one Black woman for another. DP added, “The issue, titled ‘Back to Black,’ also features a white model on the cover. You can’t make this stuff up!”
Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, fashion director at Garage magazine, also commented on the situation in her Instagram Stories, saying, “So, this means that no fewer than four people read the name Janaye Furman, and saw a picture of Naomi Chin Wing and not one spotted the error...those editors responsible for this story do not care enough about it to give it the same attention they would give any other story in the magazine. Or, those editors responsible of this story cannot tell the difference between two black models.”
She adds, “I am horrified, but I am not surprised.”
In a second post, Karefa-Johnson breaks down all the steps that go into featuring a model in the print publication, showing all the different people who have a hand in approving the photos used and how each of these people — from the fashion editor to photo researcher — apparently allowed this mistake to happen.
Many swarmed the comments in shock about the ordeal, including some notable celebrities and fashion authorities. Model Maya Stepper commented, “this is sad,” while BryanBoy added, “Good intention but poor execution”; creator Donte Colley wrote, “what the actual f*ck...” as well.
Some in the comments pointed out that while the delivery was wrong, the idea behind the feature — showcasing six Black models who are changing the current state of fashion — is admirable. However, this faux pas from the magazine may be indicative of the people working behind the scenes to put ELLE Germany’s pages together. Many pointed out that if there were more Black people on staff, a mistake like this one might not have been made.
Teen Vogue has reached out to ELLE Germany for comment.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue