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White model channels Josephine Baker...in blackface

Courtenay Brown Special to the AmNews | 4/22/2013, 10:37 a.m.

Vogue's Netherlands publication is facing criticism, as one of their models appears in blackface makeup in their most recent May 2013 issue.

The editorial spread in which Dutch model Querelle Jansen appears was intended to honor the inspiration for the previous collections Marc Jacobs has designed for Louis Vuitton. Because the looks of fashion and entertainment icon Josephine Baker inspired Jacob's Spring 2009 collection, Jansen was styled with dark black paint on her face and a misshapen, afro-style wig in an attempt illustrate this inspiration.

Fashionista.com translated the caption under the photos in the "Heritage Heroes" editorial to read: "This collection is inspired by the style of the Parisian showgirl Josephine Baker, mixed with tribal influences."

Apparently, Vogue magazines did not learn their lesson in 2009, when their Paris publication received backlash for publishing photos of another Dutch model, Lara Stone, in blackface.

However, the use of blackface is of course to Vogue magazines. In March, another international fashion magazine, Numero, published photographs of blond-haired, blue-eyed model Ondria Hardin with darkened skin in an editorial titled "African Queen."

According to Jenna Sauers, writer for feminist blog Jezebel.com, this is a repeated, offensive trend that speaks to the racism that exists in the fashion industry.

"It's particularly troubling that blackface persists in a fashion industry that continues to display an overwhelming preference for white models," wrote Sauers on Jezebel.com. "It's not possible to argue that, all things being equal, blackface -- despite its painful history in, particularly, the U.S. and Europe -- could be an appropriate aesthetic reference for a fashion magazine or brand. Because for models of color working today, things are not equal."

Vogue Netherlands has not released a statement addressing the criticism.