KATLYN LE LEAL SAYS PUT AN ASIAN WOMAN ON THE COVER OF "VOGUE"
Okay we know; the times they are a changing. We have Virgil Abloh as the creative director of Louis Vuitton, and Edward Enninful as the creative director of British Vogue. FIT showed their first plus sized look on their runway, Rihanna is out here making lingerie for every body and yet- Vogue has never put an asian woman on their cover.
Parson's student Katlyn Le Leal is calling out the American magazine for their lack of diversity, and she's doing it how millennials do it best — through petitions and social media. In a letter on Change.org to the editors of Vogue, Katlyn says "The only question I have for you is after one hundred and twenty-six years of fashion why have you not had a solo Asian cover star in American Vogue. You can argue that in 2016 you had an “Asian Cover Star,” in the March issue, but the fact is Lui Wen was tokenized. In this age of diversity why does is feel like Vogue is stuck in the past?"
It's a question we're asking to. In an era where we celebrate our diversity and differences as magick, as what make this human experience so visually delicious and fun, why are mainstream fashion magazines still so white? FASHION IS DYING talked to Katlyn Le Leal about representation, visual identity and why the hell Vogue is so out of touch.
katly le leal is calling out vogue
FASHION IS DYING: I love that you wrote a letter to Vogue about how they should put an Asian woman on the cover. What sparked this and what has the response been like?
KATLYN LE LEAL: This conversation on the lack of diversity of models on the cover of Vogue was sparked due to a research paper I wrote this year on the representation of Asian culture in fashion. It started with the documentary “The First Monday In May,” which documents the events that took place in order to create the exhibit "China: Through the Looking Glass," the theme for the 2015 Met Gala. While watching this film I was taken aback how ethnocentric and “European” this idea of China was interpreted as, viewing Chinese culture as a fantastical spectacle rather than an 8,000-year-old civilization. I have received shocked and distressed responses due to the fact that most people didn't know that Vogue hasn't had an Asian cover star; they are thankful I brought it to their attention.
FID: What would your dream Vogue cover look like?
KLL: My dream Vogue cover is a bunch of bomb ass people of all races, sizes, sexualities, genders, and backgrounds coming together to illustrate how beauty is found in every person and every aspect of life. These people would not be tokenized, but accepted as their true selves.
FID: I know the word “representation” gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean to you?
KLL: To me “representation” means visibility and the accurate portrayal and acceptance of a group of people. Right now “representation” is considered “trendy” or “unique” and instead of actually helping these groups of people, it still marginalizes them and continues to box them in a tokenized role.
FID: I love that you use bold colors and eye-catching silhouettes in your style. How would you describe your aesthetic? What inspires you?
KLL: I am inspired by the memories I make every day —as cheesy as it sounds, it's true. I am forever remembering my childhood and the vibrancy of youth. I think my aesthetic is a mixture of eclectic and modern. I love color and find myself always using too much of it.
FID: Your art is multidimensional. How would you describe your artistic practice, and how does it involve fashion?
KLL: My artistic practice is never on a schedule. I believe that if you come across a bundle of creative energy you should use it, but if not,don’t try to force it. I use this in fashion because although the fabric is forgiving, it has a mind of its own — don’t try to make it do what it doesn’t want to do. To find clarity in your work it has to be an organic extension of who you are.
FID: Is fashion dying?
KLL: Yes. . . it's a simple answer. We live in an era where being trendy and “in” is more important than true self-expression. Although fashion is dying, I think it is reinventing itself, instead of just clothing it can be anything it chooses — even you or me.
FID: What’s next?
KLL: To be honest, I have no idea. Hopefully, we will be able to see an Asian cover star on the next cover of Vogue, or maybe we're just starting this conversation. Life is a tangled web of what ifs, but it is up to chance to decide which one we tackle next!!