The French version of the fashion magazine Elle recently posted an article about ‘Black Power Fashion’ that has triggered a wave of indignation. The article, which has since been pulled off the Web, appeared to belittle Black people and their fashion sense by implying that thanks to the Obamas, African Americans have learned to ‘dress White’ while retaining their ‘Blackness.’ This open letter from France’s Le Figaro, signed by some of the country’s movers and shakers in fashion, the arts and journalism, contains excerpts from the Elle article, and sharply criticizes the employees of the magazine for being clueless to the world outside their glass-covered tower.
From Le Figaro, the open letter to Elle starts off this way:
Elle magazine has permitted us to grasp: In 2012, the ‘Black-geoisie’ has adopted all the White fashion codes.” [“Geoisie” is French slang – an offshoot of the word bourgeois – for something unfashionable that has become “chic.”] What’s more, “in this America led for the first time by a Black president, chic has become a plausible option for a community so far pegged to its ‘streetwear’ codes.” That’s right – while Blacks have dressed like hoodlums in hoodies for decades, they have finally understood – thanks to the tutelage of Whites – that they should pay more attention to their appearance. That was the tenor of an article published in the January 13 issue of the weekly magazine so favored by housewives of the “White-geoisie” (since apparently, we now divide the bourgeois by race as well) entitled Black Fashion Power, which sought to analyze the red-carpet success of African-American personalities.
It’s simple: if Blacks are now chic, it’s because they finally have an icon worthy of the name – Michelle Obama – who sets the tone by, “revisiting Jackie O’s wardrobe in a jazzy style.” Yes, because even though she is first lady, Michelle Obama herself had to be inspired by a White role model; and since she has natural rhythm, of course she added a touch of jazz.
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