The cover, which was shot by famed fashion photographer Steven Klein and also included male model Justin Martin, came under fire for its extremely bronzed depiction of Hadid. Some outlets and commenters likened the cover to “blackface” and decried what appeared to be a liberal use of photo manipulation on Hadid’s face.
Conde Nast International issued a statement about the backlash to the cover on Thursday.
“Throughout its history, Vogue Italia has respected and encouraged the creative viewpoints of commissioned photographers. In our latest cover shoot by Steven Klein, the vision was to create a beachwear-themed story with a stylized bronzing effect,” the statement, shared by Teen Vogue, said. “We understand that the result has caused some debate with our readers, and we sincerely apologize if we have caused any offence.”
Hadid also issued an apology on Thursday and provided a picture that she said showed “the level I had been bronzed to on set that day.” The model insisted she had no control over the shoot but wanted “to address this for those who were offended by the editing/retouching/coloring of the cover.”
“Please understand that my control of a shoot 1. is non existent in terms of creative direction 2. ends completely when I leave set, and anything done to a photo in post is out of my control fully,” she said.
“The bronzing and photoshop is a style that S. Klein has done for many years and I believe was what was expected from the shoot (to show me in a different way creatively), BUT, although I understand what Vogue Italia’s intentions were, it was not executed correctly, and the concerns that have been brought up are valid.”
Hadid apologized for the misstep and added that she hoped the mistake could be used as a “lesson” for those in the fashion industry.
“I want to apologize because my intention is never to diminish those concerns or take opportunities away from anyone else, and I hope this can be an example to other magazines and teams in the future,” she said.
“There are real issues regarding representation in fashion ― it’s our responsibility to acknowledge those issues and communicate through them to work towards a more diverse industry.”
The 23-year-old also removed the picture of the cover from her Instagram page, which she’d previously captioned “Excited, honored, and grateful to cover @VogueItalia’s May Issue. Thank you so so much for an amazing shoot, I am forever inspired by you all !!! & can’t wait to share the full story !!”
The photo is still up on Klein’s Instagram page as well as Vogue Italia’s.
Comments on the two Instagram pages are riddled with criticisms of Photoshop use and “blackface.”
“You need to stop ‘bronzing’ these models to make them look like they have a different skin color! Why not just use models who have darker skin tones or just use any model but don’t frickin’ photoshop them to make them look a different race,” one commenter wrote on Klein’s page.
Another added, “For the time you’ve been on Earth, I thought you’d knew the effects of blackface and racism, but I guess we’re gonna have to walk you through it once more, huh?”
The commenters on Vogue Italia’s page were just as outraged.
“That ain’t gigi,” one person wrote, while another said, “No if they wanted a darker woman or of a different ethnicity, then they should do that not photoshop and bronze the fuck out of her.”