The 100 year old publication sees its December issue drop the ‘Paris’ and instead adopt ‘France’ to align with its sibling publications from British Vogue to Vogue Italia. The publication claims this change is motivated by a desire to showcase a more diverse side to French fashion. But in 2022 is this too little too late?
The December cover star is Aya Nakamura, the French-Malian singer who is arguably the biggest musical star of the Francophone world. Even non-French speakers will recognise her catchy club hit ‘Djadja’. Nakamura’s fashion style is one that embraces both French and international influences from her African roots to African-American icons such as Aaliyah. Nakamura shines on the cover adorned in a bright blue fabric and sculptured French hat. The cover signifies what Vogue France is moving towards – a publication that respects the heritage of French fashion but embraces and rejoices in a modern France and its diverse array of icons.
French newspaper Le Figaro said that Wintour, the global editorial director of the iconic fashion magazine, is pushing “American woke values” onto the publication to boost falling circulation numbers – hence the change in name and attitude.
Many might say that this move forwards for the French publication is progressive. But progression loses its sense of forward-thinking when ‘woke’ values are inserted a little too late.
Aside from Nakamura, French Vogue rarely sees cover stars of colour on its issues. Furthermore, the publication – both print and digital – has received backlash online for pushing the ‘effortless French girl look’ which favoured Eurocentric, bourgeois lifestyles and claimed that these always thin, Caucasian and middle-class women were the epitome of Parisian style. Vogue’s name change announcement states that “the very first issue of Vogue France will pay tribute to and celebrate individuality. A passport to be oneself, to assert oneself and to ignore clichés.” Yet the publication fails to acknowledge, let alone apologise for, its own perpetuation of clichés over the past several decades which have arguably excluded many women who didn’t fit the Parisian cliché mould.
Perpetuating this narrative could only last so long with the rise of platforms such as TikTok and Instagram which have seen French fashion influencers based all over France blow up in followers. These influencers, admired by France’s younger generation, showcase colourful, curated and diverse senses of style and the influencers themselves are often of all mixed descent from Algerian and Asian to Caribbean, African or Indian.
Younger France is looking to these influencers for a representation of true French style. The style that real French people witness on the streets of Paris. The Vogue name is only just catching on to this desire for inclusion in the fashion world.
Furthermore, while Vogue may be putting Black stars on the cover, behind the scenes showcases a different story with over 90% of their workforce consisting of white only employees.
What this shift truly speaks on is the work of those within the Condé Nast name such as Edward Enninful, the Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue. British-Ghanaian Enninful took over the publication in 2017 and has made leaps and bounds for the company in regards to the inclusion of all genders, races, religions and sexualities both in the pages of Vogue and in its office employees. Anna Wintour is also arguably to thank for having stepped up her game in recent years and lending a true ear to a diverse group of voices within the fashion industry. Without these moves outside of French Vogue would Vogue Paris have been as inclined to make the changes they’re making now?
Even in its announcement of a name change, the publication quoted “From Paris to Marseille, from Lille to Strasbourg, our identity is not born from a single place and Vogue represents the best of emerging talents and voices.” Yet this quote fails to acknowledge French territories in the Caribbean such as Guadeloupe and Martinique which are also considered French soil.
In conclusion, Vogue Paris promises that its “upcoming issue, launching on November 4th, explores and redefines the cultural richness of France, advocates for both individuality and community and the power of diversity and inclusivity.” While some might adopt a ‘too little too late’ approach to this statement we only hope that the publication can continue its promise to showcase the beauty in France’s rich diversity in culture and the arts.