Jezebel’s September Fashion Mag Tally: Black Is Still Not Hot

But Halle Berry lands Vogue's cover--the second black women ever, following Naomi Campbell 20 years ago.

By Julianne Hing Aug 31, 2010

How many black models made it into this September’s fall fashion magazines? A handful, at best. And among 10 fashion titles, only one magazine, Elle, featured a black-model headlined editorial. That’s the count from Jezebel, which has for years tracked the numbers of women of color on fashion week runways and inside (or conspicuously absent from) fashion magazines. 

A Jezebel staffer takes a stack of the top titles and counts the faces inside: black, white, ambiguously brown. The final tally for 10 of September’s fashion magazines shows that just four magazines–W, Allure, Elle, and Teen Vogue–gave a black model a coveted spot in a feature fashion editorial. Another six had none at all, even though these same magazines. Dodai Stewart notes that Glamour gave plenty of page-space to black models, but they appeared scattered throughout the magazine (rather than as a feature) and always accompanied by white models on the same page.

Kind of pathetic, but also unsurprising for an industry where racial discrimination is still discussed as routine practice. At the end of the day, fashion editors inevitably fall back on feeble excuses that women of color just aren’t what the season’s calling for at the moment.

But why all the focus on September magazines? Fall fashion–and by extension, fall fashion magazines–are thought to be the most important collections of the year because they forecast trends for the upcoming year. They are to the fashion industry what summer blockbusters are to Hollywood. That’s why September issues are often the heaviest issues of the year, and why who’s on their coveted covers and inside the editorial pages is so closely watched.

But the September fashion magazines weren’t a total disappointment this year. Halle Berry made the cover of Vogue. She’s the first black woman to land a September cover since Naomi Campbell in 1989, who was herself the first black woman on the cover of Vogue ever. But hey, what do we women of color expect? Parity, or something?