In this photo Beyonce is representing and honoring Nigerian musician and human rights activist Fela Kuti – in a black face. Here’s what one critic had to say,
I’m not quite sure as to how blackface pays tribute to him. While my adoration for Beyonce’s talent and work ethic are unparallel, I’m not quite sure as to why she would agree to do a photo shoot that associates her with one of the most deeply rooted racist images in American history. Nor do I understand the L’Officiel Paris’ rationale that to revel in one’s “African roots,” they have to be “far away from glamorous” and fierce.
Nevertheless, Beyonce is just the tip of the black-faced iceberg since designers throughout the fashion world have taken the potentially racist symbol and turned it into the hottest thing on and off the catwalk. French Vogue was among the first to initiate the blackface trend when they featured a 14 page editorial of Dutch model Lara Stone in blackface. Not to be outdone, Paris-based Mongolian designer Tsolmandakh Munkhuu photographed her models in black paint from head to toe for the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography.
There are many more examples of this trend. But with the frequent use of this image on both the catwalk and in fashion editorial, it makes one wonder if this is a form of art or racism?