Elle France's Nathalie Dolivo gets "black style" all wrong.




Perhaps we can blame it on translation, naïveté, or a lack of black folks on staff, but a recent Elle France fashion blog post aimed at celebrating “Black Fashion Power” went incredibly wrong.

The article, which featured Solonge Knowles and Janelle Monae, aimed to tout a growing “trend” in redefining black style: ditching “street” style and embracing “white codes.”

Due solely to the influence of the Obama, Nathalie Dolivo claims black people are ditching our Fubu and Pelle Pelle’s, for some of haute couture’s finest. She writes,  “For the first time, the chic has become a plausible option for a community so far pegged [only] to its streetwear codes.”

If you thought that was bad,  Dolivo’s assumptions about how we choose to incorporate a plethora of influences into our style is even worse. She’s labeled stylish black folks as the “black-geosie,” a take on “bourgeoisie” ( because clearly we can’t be upper class either?).

Dolivo writes, “But if in 2012 the “black-geoisie” has integrated all the white codes [of fashion], they [do so not] literally. [There] is always a classic twist, with a bourgeois ethnic reference (a batik-printed turban/robe, a shell necklace, a ‘créole de rappeur’) reminiscent [of] the roots. It [has] shifted, [it is] new, desirable, powerful.”

So…black women are copying their white counterparts style rules, only we add “shells” and “turbans” that harken back to…out “roots”?


Luckily, many of the readers over on the Elle France blog have already ripped Dolivo to shreds for her misguided and offensive article.

One reader found Dolivo’s fashion critique ironic in light of France’s diversity: “How, in 2012, in a France where there are at least three million blacks and mixed people, can you write such nonsense? You are too kind when you write that in 2012 we have incorporated the white codes … what do you think, in 2011, we dressed in hay and burlap bags?”

While another called the article, “GROTESQUE, SHAMEFUL, and USELESS,” Wondering, “White dress codes? Did I really read white dress codes..?”

Although I’m no longer surprised by these sorts articles, I find them extremely disheartening and problematic. After years of contributions to the fashion world, it’s sad that many STILL cling to such tired, stereotypical notions of black people.

What do you think? Why can’t these fashion mags either get it right or stop discussing “black style”? 

*Via The Fashion Bomb Daily & NY Magazine

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  • @Leath, when you come to USA, remember the words of poet Audre Lorde (1934-1992) “The master will never give you the tools to dismantle his house.”

  • nanou

    Thank you for speaking about it. Now you all can see my country, “France Pays des droits de l’homme” (country of human rights). Please girls share, share and share again. People need to know that France is really not paradise for Black people (to find a job, to rent a flat, to get a promotion…).
    I don’t need to be proud of being a black woman, is just the way i am BUT i love colour, my culture, my hair, my lips… I will never apologize to be who I am. Sorry for them

  • Blasé

    ah but the French! if it ain’t French Vogue it’s Elle France…