Gigi Hadid offered a great apology for the ‘bronzeface’ Vogue Italia cover

gigi hadid vogue italia

We discussed the Gigi Hadid-Vogue Italia cover yesterday, where it looked like Vogue Italia bronzed the hell out of Gigi’s skin and gave her an otherworldy kind of look. “Otherworldly” in a bad way, because A) Gigi is unrecognizable on this cover and B) because everyone was like “so is this blackface?” There were strong opinions on both sides, as Bigly would say. The cover and editorial was shot by Steven Klein, who is known for doing some post-production “oversaturated color” looks in his fashion photography. And that’s the excuse Gigi gave in her apology: that she was bronzed, but that she looks darker on the cover than she would have preferred, but that it was the magazine’s call and not hers. Here’s part of her statement/apology:

“This is a photo of me returning home from shooting my Italian Vogue cover on April 3rd…you can see the level I had been bronzed to on set that day. Please understand that my control of a shoot 1. is non existent in terms of creative direction. 2. ends completely when I leave set, and anything done to a photo in post if out of my control fully.”

“The bronzing and photoshop is a style that S. Klein has done for many years and I believe was what was expected from the shoot (to show me in a different way creatively), BUT, although I understand what Vogue Italia’s intentions were, it was not executed correctly, and the concerns that have been brought up are valid.”

“I want to address this for those who were offended by the editing/retouching/coloring of the cover. Please know that things would have been different if my control of the situation was different. Regardless, I want to apologize because my intention is never to diminish those concerns or take opportunities away from anyone else, and I hope this can be an example to other magazines and teams in the future.”

“There are real issues regarding representation in fashion—it’s our responsibility to acknowledge those issues and communicate through them to work towards a more diverse industry.”

[From E! News]

She made that statement with a tweet, which I have embedded below. For what it’s worth, I sort of agree with her – I’ve blamed models in the past for what they agree to for editorials, and it’s always a tricky thing, figuring out what is the editors’ fault and what is the model’s fault. Like, the second a white model starts getting made up as a geisha, I do think that she should be the one to say, “wait a second, is this offensive?” But that’s not really the case here – Gigi was bronzed, but I believe her when she says that the image’s contrast was heightened in post. I also appreciate that she apologizes and that the complaints and concerns were valid. This is an A-plus way to handle the controversy.

Cover courtesy of Vogue Italia.

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61 Responses to “Gigi Hadid offered a great apology for the ‘bronzeface’ Vogue Italia cover”

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  1. Emily says:

    My issue was not so much the bronzing (it didn’t look like blackface to me) but how makeup was used to change her facial features to look more ethnically ambiguous. Her nose has been thinned and elongated and her eyebrows raised. So whatever to the bronze and huh to the contouring.

    • Kitten says:

      She looked like a completely different person on that cover which is bizarre because she’s beautiful and also one of the most recognizable models right now. Why they would want to f*ck with that is beyond my understanding. The cover is so awful,

    • Adele Dazeem says:

      Agreed. I would have never known that was her if it wasn’t pointed out. I’m not even clear on what kind of crazy ass editing was done. It isn’t just skin color and hair color darkening.

    • Veronica says:

      Yeah, that’s my issue with it. It may not be *specifically* blackface, but it felt like it was pulled from the same fetishization of darker skin from which it was pulled. Which, again, is not a problem except that the Western world is racist and colorist, so the implications are troubling.

  2. Kitten says:

    Good job, GiGi.
    For all the talk about her narcissistic mother and her privileged upbringing, the nepotism, etc. she seems like a really thoughtful young woman with a good head on her shoulders. I like her.

    • anna222 says:

      It’s a thoughtful response – I don’t know if it’s perfect but it’s better than most I’ve read. I like her too, I hope she has some longevity as a model.

    • minime says:

      It was really the perfect response and it’s specially thoughtful that she decided to address the concerns that were being voiced. I think she made a very good point: a model doesn’t have creative control over a photoshoot. I still think it’s good to try to make the more known models to address these issues, but I would rather prefer that the magazines and creatives would get most of the heat for these shady decisions. I guess that for many models it’s not really an option to just say “ok, that’s too much, I’m going home” and get labelled as the “difficult one” that no one will give a job to.

    • Nicole says:

      I was fully prepared to hate this response and I don’t. The only issue I have is when she says she doesn’t have much control. She has clout as one of the most recognizable “faces” right now. She has some power to get proofs and make sure they don’t look crazy.

      • Blinkbanana says:

        She really doesn’t. All it takes is a creative disagreement on one project with the wrong person and she could be blacklisted as much as the next person. I don’t work in this industry, I work with actors, and the exact same thing happens there. It doesn’t matter her stature or profile. The work needs to be done with the decision makers and at editorial level. The responsibility can’t be pushed on the talent. They’re too easy to blame by all parties.

    • teacakes says:

      Hear, hear, Kitten. Unlike the other nepotism insta models, Gigi seems to have some thoughts in her head beyond wanting prestige and attention/likes – it’s something that stands her in good stead.

  3. Tara Beth says:

    Did they add the afro wigs in photoshop too.

  4. Originaltessa says:

    I hate blaming the models for the decisions of magazine executives and art directors.

    • Eden75 says:

      This exactly.

      The choice of styling is not up to the model, you get what you get. I will never understand this whole model apologizing thing. They do not decide and if they refuse, they will not have work for long.

      I am also not getting the need for her to apologize. The photo is not blackface and changing her looks is not a big deal. People do it with makeup everyday but because this is a cover it’s an issue? If anything, whoever decided on the styling should be apologizing. It’s just a bad bad look all around.

    • lucy2 says:

      Me too. It’s important to focus on who is making the actual decisions.

      • MagicalDay says:

        Hmm….but the models aren’t forced to participate? Serious question.

      • Eden75 says:

        No, they aren’t forced but they will gain a rep for being difficult in the industry and that’s the end of their career. Doesn’t matter how big a name the model, if they complain, it will happen.

      • teacakes says:

        @Magical Day – sure, they’re “not forced”. The same way that the models Terry Richardson abused were “not forced” into doing sexualised shoots that made them actively uncomfortable, for fear of being labelled ‘difficult’ and getting blacklisted by brands and publications.

        Models really don’t have much power in the industry, and they certainly don’t tend to get a say in how they’re made to look.

  5. grabbyhands says:

    So was it executed correctly when she did the photo shoot where they darkened her skin and put her in an Afro wig? Or did she just get woke about this now?

    • Jussie says:

      The Afro wig was a bright blue party wig, and her skin was just tan like it is the pap photo she posted.

      The decision to shoot some images in black and white then highly saturate them so it looked like it was a black wig and like her skin was 10 shades darker had nothing to do with her.

  6. Red says:

    I mean, I appreciate the apology, but this is not the first time Gigi has been in this situation. She is not a model just beginning in her career. She has a lot of pull in the industry. She was dropped from last years VS show because of her really inappropriate video! I don’t know if she’s learning or just realizing that apologies are better than ignoring it.

  7. Annabelle says:

    My own artwork has to do with photography and I digitally or physically alternevery image to the point of unrecognisability. Also, when I used to pose for photographers, nobody could recognise me in any of the photos because of lighting, camera angles and of course, the photographers were awesome so I actually looked decent. Some of the captures were even flipped around 180°. Your left side and your right side are totally different – it’s one of the tricks they use to your get your best side in an image without doing the entire shoot again. I had read Gigi’s explanation after the initial uproar over the bronze face. However, I can see how people would believe she agreed to wear dark makeup on set. It’s unfair to alter her after a photoshoot and then throw her under the bus like that in the proverbial sense.

  8. Beth says:

    It was a terrible picture, but I don’t think this was blackface. If they thought they needed to make her look so unrecognizable with photoshop and makeup, why didn’t they just get another model ?

  9. adastraperaspera says:

    This is an apology written by a professional. I think Hadid must have access to an excellent PR team, and in this case she followed their direction to publish the statement. I think it’s the right thing to put out there. It seems the models are slammed and the photographers, editors and producers hide in the shadows–rarely being required to make any statement. Not to say that the models who participate in racist shoots are blameless.

  10. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    What brand of sneakers is she wearing?

  11. Rumi says:

    She didn’t need to aplogise, out of all the Vogue’s Italia is the best. This was not blackface at all. And I liked the pics. Nevertheless the apology was well thought out and she comes across as articulate and sincere.

  12. Ally says:

    This is idiotic all round. They spent money on a high-profile model then changed her face shape, features and skin color to make her look like a rando ANTM contestant.

    I think Vogue Italia was good with giving black models like Naomi Campbell editorials even years ago (there was also their famous and bestselling July 2008 “All Black Issue”) but too often in a rather sexualized/fetishized ‘exotic’ way. Were they trying to emphasize her Middle Eastern parentage by playing with her skin tone?

    The Vogues are pretty hopeless generally now. Imo, the best fashion spreads are in Harpers Bazaar UK these days: poetic but relatable to real life.

    • teacakes says:

      Harper’s Bazaar UK is a magazine I love ever since Justine Picardie came on board (those dreamy covers!).

      And I love it even more after finding out she refused to hire Terry Richardson to shoot anything for the magazine right from day 1 as its EIC – she told a rather disturbing story about a young female colleague at a different magazine being sent to meet with him over a shoot and finding hardcore p-rnography playing in his studio.

  13. Rose says:

    Not offensive at all , nor was Karlie’s Geisha shoot in my opinion.

    • SKF says:

      Yeah the talk of geishas always makes me laugh because I have lived in Japan and they literally do not give a f— about other nations wearing kimonos or dressing as geishas. They have a thriving tourist industry off doing just that. In every major city (but particularly Kyoto, Kamakura and other cities with many shrines) there are a tonne of places where they will dress you up in kimonos or as a geisha with the full outfit, hair and make-up. The Chinese tourists all go nuts for it. There is also a geisha theme park and a bunch of other theme and cultural parks where they will do this too. They like seeing other people in these outfits. They also love Caucasian models and regularly use them in their own campaigns.

      Now, I can understand Japanese-Americans or other similar groups might have a different take in that perhaps at some point in the US they have been derided for their race and culture and then a fashion mag puts a white girl in it and it’s all good. However, I went to school with some Japanese-Australians and everyone would go nuts over their kimonos when they brought them out so I don’t know if that’s an issue like it is for other cultures. And realistically, Japanese-Americans are not geishas (it doesn’t exist in the US) so they are not being derided for being a geisha while white girls are praised. So I’m sorry but I think the case for cultural appropriation is weak AF in this case.

      Finally, the Japanese borrow heavily in fashion from western cultures and it is never called cultural appropriation. And believe you me, non-Japanese living in Japan (“gaijin”) are very much discriminated against for all of their ways and just not being Japanese, so…

      • Veronica S. says:

        I think the issue is more the lack of visibility for WOC in the Western modeling industry than the actual cultural influence. The line between culture-sharing and appropriation can be blurry, but at lot of it boils down to the intent and context of the usage. Highlighting cultural differences is fine. Exotifying them is not. Borrowing things of religious or ethnic significance and making them decorations is not. Profiting off things that minorities are degraded for is not. Etc. al.

  14. Loopy says:

    It’s like some celebrities especially of the reality fame seem to simply do things so they can just apologise later.

  15. JeanGray says:

    I wouldn’t exactly call this blackface, but it’s still weird. She doesn’t even look like Gigi. I didn’t even know it was her. I don’t even like the positioning of her body on that front cover. Just awful.

  16. Melanie says:

    The magazine should be apologizing to HER, for making her look awful and unrecognizable!

  17. Jan says:

    Why isn’t everyone dragging the magazine? They are the ones who photoshopped the pictures to where you can’t even tell who it is?

  18. emma peel says:

    She has nothing to apologize for – she’s simply being photographed doing her job.

  19. Laur says:

    She looks no more bronzed than some young women I see in London or on Instagram. Being ‘bronzed’ is a big thing and has been for years. Of course some will always overdo it, and then get derided for looking like an ‘oompah loompah’. I’ll even admit to wearing fake tan in summer, I’m Irish-Italian so I will tan but prefer to wear sunscreen and get a little colour the healthy way. I’d be more offended that she looks like a completely different person.

  20. Christina S. says:

    I wouldn’t call it blackface, but she definitely looks Arab or Latina. Either way, not appropriate. I wish photoshop was illegal sometimes.

    • Veronica says:

      Her heritage contains Palestinian, but Arabic doesn’t necessarily mean dark. Her father has light eyes,after all, and his skin tone is more medium/ruddy than naturally tanned. The choice to darken her hair, eyes, and skin is still a troubling editorial decision when they simply could have found a model with that look.

      • Felicia says:

        Or you know… she could have sat by the pool for a couple of days and naturally tan to a bronze.

    • Asiyah says:

      Not all Arabs are dark-skinned. Many are fair. Her father, who is Arab, is a natural blond.

  21. Naddie says:

    I don’t think she owns anyone an apology, but her statement is wise. I might be being naive, but I think it’s not on her to decide those things.

  22. Bianca says:

    Omg this is beyond ridiculous. Are we going to ban tanning lotion and bronzer now?? So they made her look different. They do this in fashion. It is not blackface.

    I don’t understand why people are getting all butthurt over this. They didn’t change her ethnicity on the cover.

  23. Veronica S. says:

    I always feel like the comments on these sorts of threads are VERY revealing.

  24. WTF says:

    Wow. If she wrote that apology, I’m a new fan. Hell, even if she didn’t write it, I’m a fan. That she approved it and tweeted it, in the age of Trump – thumbs up Gigi.

    As for the comments on this and the other thread I’ll say this – If you find yourself telling someone else what they should or shouldn’t be offended by and/or you happen to not be a member of the group that found something offensive, but you have a million reasons why its not offensive, you are officially “that guy”.

    I don’t get some ‘pleasure’ out of being offended. It is usually a visceral reaction. And if I find some commercial item offensive, I make a note to not buy/support it and I tell my friends.

  25. j says:

    it’s a great apology, better than i would have expected. but if she knew the photographer’s aesthetic beforehand, like she claims, she could have exercised control by not taking the job. it’s not her choice what they do in post, but it is her choice to do the shoot.

    • teacakes says:

      What, refuse the job because wearing bronzer is now offensive? Steven Klein’s images usually feature hyper-bronzed obviously white people, but it’s not like she could predict that he’d go HAM with the post-production on her photos to this result.

  26. mela says:

    Gigi and this situation are so boring. who cares?

    also, i’m italian

  27. claudia says:

    in italy we don t have the concept of racial appropriation…you see kids at carnival dress like indians, our ex prime minister said that obama was bronzed…we ‘re just not that politically correct. i haven t heard infact noone talking of this story before coming to this site.

  28. EMau says:

    She doesn’t have anything to apologise for.
    The only people who should be apologising are the higher ups at Italian Vogue, because that has to be one of the worst covers out there in the history of Vogue and does nothing for Gigi.

  29. Godwina says:

    Hadid is a WOC, who surely is allowed to get sun on her face or wear bronzer for a photoshoot, so even colourism aside, wtf is this tempest? They didn’t “change” her race here. WOC can’t fucking win when they are sandwiched between the “dark skin fetish” and the “pale skin fetish” and we’re honestly making it worse for WOC by splitting these particular hairs.

  30. Ash says:

    I’ve worked as a model for 20+ years. Although def nowhere near the level of Gigi but she’s right. Models have no say so, no control, even top models. If you do assert yourself, you could end your career right then and there. There have been times where I’ve been uncomfortable and unfortunately had to fake sick or call my agent for an excuse to leave. I’m not saying this is fair or correct by any means, it’s just the honest truth. When you are young and literally starving (not in the typical model way but you are broke!) you can’t afford to make any waves. I know she has much more clout and speaking out might not end her career then and there but it would get people talking for sure. It’s just the business. No one says it’s ok, but that’s the choice you make going into it. Sadly, I let a few things go that looking back on I cringe but luckily I came out on the other side mostly unscathed.

  31. Oliviajoy1995 says:

    I would never have thought that was Gigi Hadid on the cover of that magazine in the first place. Doesn’t look like her AT ALL. It’s actually a horrible picture of her in general. If they had to change her appearance so much why didn’t they get a model that was Italian in the first place?

  32. Kitten says:

    LOL and I’m laughing at YOU having the balls to say that sh*t with the current clown-show-circus that y’all elected.

    Where do people learn to project like this? Does Trump University teach a course or something?

  33. Stella Alpina says:

    I hear the laughter of the willfully ignorant. Have you looked at a mirror lately, Betsy?

  34. WTF says:

    @Kitten
    You made my day with this comment!
    HAHAHAHAHAHA!

  35. GreenQueen says:

    Thank you Kitten for calling that out! I love you girl, always keeping it real. This isn’t a leftist thing! I also really have a problem with that Arab comment up the chain, chica is half-Arab people!! I’m half Persian and I go off on people who get that twisted. Like, don’t even come for me.

  36. Angry Bird says:

    Hehehe!