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Beauty, Fashion, History, Pop Culture, WERK!

Rewind, 2008: Plus-Size Model Toccara Jones and Vogue Italia’s ‘All-Black Issue’

November 5, 2015

by Eric Darnell Pritchard

“I wanted to say something about weight, and I’m never allowed to do that,” said legendary fashion photographer Steven Meisel, as quoted in a June 2008 story by New York Times by fashion critic Cathy Horyn. “I met Toccara and thought, she’s beautiful. What’s the deal with her? She’s great and she’s sexy.”

Meisel was speaking on photographing plus-size model Toccara Jones, for what is now remembers as an epic moment in recent fashion history. In August of 2008, Vogue Italia published a special issue of the magazine in which they only used Black models in its editorial pages. The magazine cover featured model Liya Kebede on a fold-out cover, with models Sessilee Lopez, Jourdan Dunn and iconic supermodel Naomi Campbell on three additional covers unfurling like an accordion from Kebede’s. In addition to Campbell, many other legendary Black models including Iman, Tyra Banks, and Veronica Webb were featured, alongside a number of emerging model talents of the time.

The issue, conceived by Vogue Italia’s editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani, featured over 100 pages of editorial content shot by Meisel. In press reports Sozzani stated that the inspiration for the issue was then Senator Barack Obama, with the internationally adored Michelle Obama with him, winning the Democratic Party nomination for President, but also, and Meisel conquered, the lack of diversity in fashion on the runway, in advertisements, editorial spreads and throughout the fashion industry.

While the focus of most press coverage on the issue was initially about the fact that the magazine would be using all Black models, and lots of speculation on what models would be featured in such an iconic issue, once information on what  much of the contents of the issue was previewed the clear stunner to shut down the entire issue was model Toccara Jones. Jones, a former contestant and fan-favorite on Tyra Banks’ popular reality competition show “America’s Next Top Model,” was photographed by Meisel in a sexy, luxurious, fantasy ride of an editorial in a fashion story in which the model is depicted wearing almost nothing but a variety of fur coats. The representational and historical significance of featuring Jones is that she was a plus-sized model, so while the media frenzy that the issue was featuring Black models was fully on, here comes Jones in the issue killin’ it for Black girls and curry girls everywhere. But don’t take my word for it, here is your trip down memory lane below, but first, a shout-out to Toccara Jones! YOU DID THAT!


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Fashion, History

Happy Birthday, ALT! – October 16

October 19, 2015

Wishing the happiest of birthdays to fashion icon Andre Leon Talley! May you have the most glorious of birthdays and many, many more years of elegance to come. If you haven’t read ALT’s memoir, I highly recommend it and any of the books he’s curated in connections with exhibits he put together at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) with the “Little Black Dress” book being my favorite.

Fashion, History

Happy Birthday, Ms. Vreeland ! – September 29

October 19, 2015

Happy Birthday to one of my style idols, the late, great Diana Vreeland. The photographer Richard Avedon once said that the genius of Vreeland is that she created an entire career – the fashion editor. And as the legendary editor at Vogue Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar and the first curator of the Met Costume Institute, the fashion industry owes a major debt to Mrs. Vreeland!

Fashion, News, News, Pop Culture

Harper’s Bazaar ‘Icons’

October 17, 2015

Oprah posed as Glinda the Good Witch from “The Wizard of Oz” in the latest ‘Icons’ issue of Harper’s Bazaar and styled by the legendary Carine Roitfeld, and photographed by Jean-Paul Goude. Divine, like Glinda!

The issue featured a number of other celebrities posed as icons, including Katy Perry as Elizabeth Taylor as styled in an Andy Warhol portrait, Rose Huntington-Whiteley as Diana Vreeland, Jessica Chastain as a very elegantly dressed Joan of Arc, and one of my favorites, Willow Smith as the Hindu Goddess Kali!

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Carine Roitfeld Gives a Fierce Photo Even When She’s Not Trying!

April 23, 2015

Carine Roitfeld, founder and editor of CR Fashion Book and Global Fashion Editor at Harper’s Bazaar is so effortlessly chic that she even gives us editorial even when she’s not trying! She’s always been someone who has charted a path I admire and is therefore a role model. The former french Vogue editor personifies fierceness!