So, it's 2017 and this happened: Vogue decided to create a Geisha-themed editorial for its March issue featuring Karlie Kloss - and the internet is not having it. To add insult to injury, the shoot is part of the magazine's diversity-themed issue. (Which has also already received some backlash on its own.)
The shoot, which was styled by Vogue editor Phyllis Posnick and shot by Mikael Jansson in Japan, features Karlie posing with a sumo wrestler, wearing a wig of black hair and sporting an obviously-whitened face. Yikes.
Karlie for Vogue US - March 2017 pic.twitter.com/Pbo9rssT8p
— bestkkpics (@bestkkpics) February 14, 2017
As you can imagine, the reactions on Twitter were basically a giant collective cringe:
Were all the Asian people busy? https://t.co/07MRWV8ywj
— Affinity Magazine (@TheAffinityMag) February 14, 2017
Literally how is this still happening. https://t.co/7RR419ld4w
— Connie Wang (@conniewang) February 14, 2017
Looks like that Condé Nast diversity panel really did some good (ed note: karlie kloss as a geisha in vogue diversity issue) pic.twitter.com/aH8KGrlEH7
— lindsay peoples (@lrpeoples) February 14, 2017
As Refinery29 points out, part of the problem with the shoot is that Asian women only made up 7 percent of all models during New York Fashion Week - so why didn't Vogue use this opportunity to give exposure to a Japanese model that would actually best represent the culture? Not to mention the fact that the magazine resorted to a cheap, cliched representation of Japanese culture instead of trying to research and truly understand it.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Vogue has created some racial controversy with its editorials. As New York Magazine's The Cut reports, Vogue referred to a pair of earrings as "slave earrings" on its website back in 2011, and its French edition has previously featured model Lara Stone in blackface.
We wish the magazine could have used this as an opportunity seeing as it was their widely-acclaimed diversity issue - but this message of inclusivity seems to have stopped at the cover.