Thursday, May 19, 2011

V Magazine - June 2011 - The Asian Issue

I said I wasn't going to do this. I told myself I would just ignore the things in fashion that I don't like, and not draw attention to ugly. But then again, this is my blog, and I'm irritated, so here's my first opinionated post.
Because this isn't good enough.
Tao Okamoto, photographed by Terry Tsiolis
      V Magazine's June issue is the "Asian" issue. They hyped it up, linking it to the dramatic rise in East Asian models on runways and in print. Givenchy's Spring Couture show featured only models of East Asian descent, and there were a lot of beautiful women in those photos. And the world's attention has been drawn to the crisis in Japan, so East Asia and East Asian culture are kind of a big deal right now.  But what does V Magazine choose to put on their cover of this otherwise exclusively East Asian issue? That woman who cannot be named, because she raises my blood pressure. Apparently, there aren't enough Asians to put on a cover. Nope. Not enough East Asian models, actors, designers, singers. Nobody. Or I guess, a whole bunch of nobodies that fill up the rest of the magazine.
     Naturally, most of us in the fashion world are furious. Can you imagine if the Black Issue of Vogue had Britney Spears in black-face on the cover? Here's V editor in chief, Stephen Gan's unconvincing rationale, as explained to

MDC: How did the idea for an Asia issue come about?
Stephen: Being Asian myself, it’s a subject I always wanted to tackle, but never dared to. As you can imagine, it’s a subject that hits very close to home, and, therefore, is very difficult to tackle. How do you do it right? How do you involve all the right people and ever think it’s complete? Plus, the idea that people would say “Asian” is a trend, that it could now be “in,” was very strange to me. It took a lot of guts and a lot of hard work.

MDC: In your opinion, what is the biggest impact that the Asian market has had on the fashion industry as a whole?

Stephen: Let’s face it, all the big designer brands think of Asia as a very important market now. But we’ve tried not to think too much of that, and just think of all the gorgeous Asian models there are now, when it seemed like you couldn’t find a good Asian model a year or two ago.

MDC: Who were some people you felt it was important to include in this issue?

Stephen: First of all, the issue had to be done with our Asian guest editors, Victoria and Edward Tang, who know the “pulse” of anything that’s worthwhile covering over there. On the celebrity front, it was impossible to do it without Gong Li, “the Garbo of Asia,” probably the most beautiful and talented actress on that side of the world. On the political front, artist Ai Wei Wei. For photography, Nobuyoshi Araki, Japan’s most controversial photographer. As far as models: Bonnie Chen and her boyfriend, “The Rock,” are, to me, the most gorgeous Asian couple around right now. Fei Fei Sun, Liu Wen, Tao Okamoto, Ming Xi, and Sui He are the most beautiful Asian girls right now, while Daisuke Ueda is probably the handsomest male. They’re all incredibly inspiring.

MDC: What made you decide on Lady Gaga for the cover of the Issue, as opposed to an Asian celebrity or model?

Stephen: Honestly, we searched high and low for Asian celebrities, and we seriously did our homework. But stars who are big in Asia rarely come to America, and getting someone shot over there the way we like things done, started to look tougher and tougher. Gaga and I were emailing the day “Born This Way” came out and I said, “You deserve another cover!” It turned out our Summer issue was coming out ten days before her new album was due to hit. And so I turned to Inez & Vinoodh to come up with an idea that showed her as 3 different characters: herself, a Japanese butterfly, and a Bollywood Shiva goddess. This was their idea, and it just seemed to fit so naturally.

MDC: This issue is going to have a special hardbound edition, which is sure to become something of a collector’s item. Do you feel that as digital takes over, magazines have to become collector’s items? 

Stephen: Well, you couldn’t see a cover image like this come to life and not think of commemorating the occasion is a special way. Doing the 1000 copy limited Collector’s Edition was our way of doing it. It’s such a special moment for me, for all Asians, and for Gaga. An issue can be a celebration in print, right? That’s what this is.
   Really, Stephen? The pages are FULL of East Asian models. You already photographed them. And East Asian models like Liu Wen and Fei Fei Sun were all over the runways, I'm sure they could drop in to a studio sometime between doing a show and shooting for American Vogue. I don't know why you thought putting that woman on your cover was the right thing to do. I guess you've bought into her idea that controversy makes you important, and it's more important for you to make money than to actually do what you set out to do.
    And wait a second. This is a special moment for all (East) Asians and Gaga? So special that we can buy the hardcopy and get a T-Shirt with her white face on it? I'm surprised that the cultural appropriator herself didn't insist on calling it the "Issue of Orient Descent", just to inflame more controversy. Because she just can't let her music stand on its own, she has to latch on to the plight of marginalized people like a zebra mussel on a Russian fishing boat. She's smart, and she must be aware of her own mediocrity, so she has relies on shock value. She exploits causes while championing herself, acting like some kind of human rights activist with that lame attempt at a "gay anthem" while at the same time perpetuating racial slurs. And then she cries to the media about how hurt she is that the gays turned against her when she was just trying to help. Hmmm... Let's count how many times members of the dominant culture have "tried to help" the marginalized and actually done anything better than disastrous?  Like, I don't know, small pox dispensing missionaries? Residential schools? Nice white ladies who have a best friend who's black? Here's a clue, Stefani. The gays, the "Cholas" and the "Orientals" don't need your help. Stop waving our flag, you're making us look bad.

1 comment:

  1. I have so much rage. No more V for me, I'm going to only watch youtube videos of talking kittens.


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