Gigi Hadid responds to accusations of blackface on cover of Vogue Italia

Gigi Hadid photographed by Steven Klein for the May issue of 'Vogue' Italia.
Gigi Hadid photographed by Steven Klein for the May issue of 'Vogue' Italia. Screenshot / Vogue Italia Instagram

Gigi Hadid and Vogue Italia have separately apologized for the May Vogue Italia cover showing the top model with a darker skin tone and hair colour that set off a social media backlash and underlined the lack of diversity in the fashion industry.

Hadid took to Instagram on Thursday to discuss the situation, saying, diversity needs to be addressed and she does not want “to take opportunities away from anyone else.”

The cover shows the normally blonde Hadid with dark hair and heavily bronzed skin, wearing a tiara and sequined jumpsuit.

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Many people criticized Hadid on social media, saying she looks “completely unrecognizable” with her skin tone.

Other people on Twitter argued that Hadid just had a spray tan.

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The 23-year-old model said the cover shoot by photographer Steven Klein, including bronzing of her skin and digital editing of the photo, “was not executed correctly and concerns that have been brought up are valid.”

“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 is out of my control fully,” Hadid wrote.

“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),” she continued in a post on Twitter and on her Instagram story.

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“I want to address this for those who were offended by the editing/retouch/colouring of the cover. Please know that things would have been different if my control of the situation was different,” the model said. “Regardless, I want to apologize because I never want to diminish these 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 diversity industry,” Hadid concluded.

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Vogue Italia said Klein’s “vision was to create a beachwear-themed story with a stylized bronzing effect,” adding that “we understand that the result has caused some debate with our readers, and we sincerely apologize if we have caused any offence.”

This isn’t the first time a collaboration between Hadid and Vogue Italia has come under fire for racial undertones.

In 2015, Hadid was accused of cultural appropriation when she posed on the cover and inner pages of the magazine wearing a variety of different coloured afro-style wigs.

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Hadid also faced criticism when she landed the cover of the very first issue of Vogue Arabia. The model is part Palestinian, however, many people were unhappy with the photo shoot and began to call her out for appropriation.

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—With files from the Associated Press

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