My name is Rachel Kaliisa and I run a fashion blog entitled, ''Extraordinary People''. I have long been an avid reader of Vogue UK and I have loved how Vogue has composed each magazine artistically and excellently. I remember buying my first Vogue magazine at the age of 16, breathlessly flicking through the images over and over again. I couldn't believe how stylish the men and women featured in the magazine were. I was in absolute awe. Since then, I have continued to buy Vogue magazines and I have been continually wowed.
However, as I began to buy more and more magazines, I began to realise that the women who graced the covers of Vogue, the models who were frequently featured in the ads and the photograph next to the ''style icon of the year'' or ''inspiration'' article, looked nothing like me. A couple of years later, my love for fashion evolved and I began to develop fashion favourites and style icons which was exciting. However, after some time, I realised that the icons I so dearly loved, looked nothing like me. This began to gnaw at me in a way I just could not articulate at such a young age. So for a long time, I ignored the feeling and began to believe that people like me with darker skin and non European features just did not fit the label, ''Fashionable''. Occasionally, Naomi Campbell would appear in the magazine, and later on, the likes of Jourdan Dunn, however, I began to ask myself whether the rest of the black models were living under rocks, as most of the models I would see, would be European.
I feel as though women who are of Afro-Carribean decent are under represented in your magazine. As a lover of fashion, it especially concerns me because I'm engrossed in fashion, therefore the lack of representation is an omnipresent, ubiquitous reality. Living in the city of London, I come across a vast array of people from various places in the world. I have also lived in the Midlands for 5 years and I came across people with various backgrounds and cultures. The UK is a diverse nation, however, I believe our magazines are not portraying this diversity very well and unfortunately, Vogue is guilty of this indictment.
I know that the subject of diversity, race and representation is one that is usually approached with an air of trepidation as it is a sensitive topic, however, I don't think this is an issue that we can continue to ignore. The topic of race and fashion has been explored, but not enough and this is not a topic that should be taken lightly. During London Fashion Week, I was interviewed by channel 4 at Summerset House. I was asked to comment on Naomi Campbell's views about the fashion industry and racism. I stated that the industry is not racist, however there is lack of representation in the industry. However, many would argue that the industry is racist due to various incidences such as; the numerous incidents with John Galliano (who will be featured in Vogues December issue), the process of elimination when it comes to choosing models of Afro-Carribean decent, the ''token black model'' syndrome that has plagued the runways, Dell’Aqcua's recent use of Blackface at an African disco halloween party, the use of European spray tanned models in the French Vogue ''African Queen'' editorial and the lack of representation in magazines such as Vogue.
It can often seem as though the solution to this problem is simply publishing an all black models edition of Vogue, however, this only encourages isolation and alienation. I would like to see a better representation of beauty. Not one type of beauty. I no longer want to see women of Afro-Carribean decent being made to wear blonde lace wigs and have their skin look lighter than usual. This only enforces that those who resemble a European woman are more beautiful.
I have heard on a number of occasions that, ''this is what the consumers want'', however, Vogue has the ability to create new fashion rules and open the eyes of the fashion world. Vogue can remind and educate their readers by showing them that beauty comes in various shades and sizes. We do not want to be a new trend, this seasons look, or a new craze. We want our children to look at Vogue in the next decade and see women who look just like them, so when they grow up, they are not enslaved by the debilitating insecurities many of us had to face and still face as young adults.
I believe Vogue plays an integral part in representing ''beauty'' to the world, however, this comes with great responsibility and I believe that Vogue should embrace this responsibility and make a change. this change will not only affect this generation, but the generation to come.
Thank you for reading my email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Rachel Kaliisa. "