We’ve posted before about the use of non-White bodies, or non-Western cultures, as props in fashion photo shoots. These shoots generally show a White model in Westernized clothing juxtaposed with animals, landscapes, architecture, and undifferentiated groups of non-White residents, all of which mark the White model as modern and the locale as exotic and primitive. The residents of the nations where these shoots occur, then, are presented as one more tourist attraction, a backdrop for the White star of the fashion display.

Sonita M. sent in another example of this common fashion trope, posted at Oh No They Didn’t! A recent issue of Vogue Australia, themed “Fashion gone wild,” includes a feature on Isabel Lucas in “Africa,” though it appears the photographs were specifically taken in Botswana. A few images:

Similarly, Pearl S.D. and Liana R. pointed out that the November 2011 Anthropologie catalog uses Peru as a backdrop, with local residents and the landscape serving as background. In this image, the Peruvians are literally marginalized, partially cut out of the photo of the two models they frame, one of whom holds a Cuzco Clutch, which sells for a mere $228:

For other examples, see exoticizing India, conflating Indian architecture, animals, and people, Black bodies as fashion props (and another example), undifferentiated groups of Asians as props, and luxury and poverty in Vogue India.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.
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