Audrey Brown

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Fashion: Beyonce's Black Face Homage to Fele Kuti

Beyoncé in black face in L'Officiel Magazine

Pop sensation Beyoncé has come under fire for a black faced photoshoot paying tribute to Fela Kuti, a revered Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and human rights activist for the French magazine  L'Officiel de la Mode's 90th anniversary issue. Adorned in full African inspired dresses and jewellery by top designers, including Gucci, Azzedine Alaia, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Cartier, Lanvin, and a design by Beyonce's mother Tina Knowles.

L'Officiel set the record straight on the matter by claiming that Beyoncé mentioned the artist Fela Kuti in an interview as one of her musical inspirations and said that this was later misquoted as the inspiratio­n for the shoot. When in fact the inspiration for the shoot was conceived as using art and fashion in paying homage to African queens.

L'Officiel magazine stated, "We would like to clarify that it is not the case. As for the artistic makeup, the inspiration­n came from several African rituals during which paint is used on the face. We find the images beautiful and inspiring. L'OFFICIEL is very proud to present its March issue featuring Beyoncé. A queen, a goddess, Beyoncé is a bombshell beauty with a divine voice. We're thrilled she's opening a season of celebrating the 90th anniversary­ of L'Officiel de la Mode."

Now, one could say why not use a model such as Alek Wek with the desired black hue for the shoot, instead of blackening a light-skinned Beyoncé. Also, L'Officiel state that paint is used on the face during African rituals which is true but in my opinion, I doubt it is used in such a  'minstrelsy' inspired way by fully blackening the entire face. Equally, the songs, dances, skits, and stagecraft of the 19th century American black face minstrel shows were neither artistic, fashionable or entertaining to black people during the 19th century and it certainly is not entertaining or artistic today in the 21st century.

Obviously, these are just my opinions, let me know yours..

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