Mehdi Sefrioui | Handing a Pink Slip to Fashion’s Black List

Handbag Racism, a catchall phrase thrown around in the summer of 2013. It describes the outer boundaries of racism in our supposedly post racialist society. Even though not always overt, racism drifts the halls of fashion, keeping four out of five models at NYFW white.

As musician Junglepussy says; ‘A line once thick..now blurred…but never damaged.’ Responding to an incident between herself and a sales assistant in Switzerland last year, Oprah Winfrey summed up handbag racism when she said; ‘I was just referencing it as an example of being in a place where people don’t expect that you would be able to be there [sic].’

 

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Gauderic Vilmaure and Josué Comoe wearing shirts by Issey Miyake.

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Gauderic Vilmaure and Josué Comoe wearing shirts by Issey Miyake. Courtesy of the artist.

 

Working from Paris, Moroccan photographer Mehdi Sefrioui found fashion house Moncler’s black cast at the Gamme Rouge SS 2014 show; ‘great and visually rare.’ Inspired by that casting and, among other things, our Tumblr (!) the photographer spawned ‘Infro’, a series of photographs pointing to the pink elephant in the fashion room, which we debut here.

Under Sefrioui’s guidance an irenic squad of black male models converge on the outskirts of Paris. Registering somewhere on the spectrum between Ilan Godfrey’s situational ‘The Harvest’ and Richard Moss’ Aerochrome photography of eastern Congo, Sefrioui’s infrared treatment plays up the issue of runway diversity through rose colored glasses. Brooding eyes against pink woods a heady dream of  black skin in fashion, of blacks on the runway. Which, along with his use of composition lure the observer into a longer gaze. A much needed poetic reprieve from the bitch that is reality.

Burdened by historical and detached forces, being black isn’t a fashion statement but a lived experience that, in 2014 can still lead to death by racism. Sigh… I wish we had a hundred more Naomi’s. A hundred more ways for people like Michael Dunn to put down the gun when hearing hip hop.

Fashion will truly break rules when the authority it wields over our definitions of beauty find expression in more elegant proportions of what it means to be black, alongside white [ness].

 

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Julio Goba in vest and hat by Kiliwatch, shirt by Edwin, pants by Diesel Black Gold.

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Julio Goba in vest and hat by Kiliwatch, shirt by Edwin, pants by Diesel Black Gold.

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Maël Caloc wearing hat by KTZ and shirt by Diesel Black Gold.

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Maël Caloc wearing hat by KTZ and shirt by Diesel Black Gold.

 

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Josué Comoe wearing shirt by Ted Baker, pants by US Polo and hat by Marks & Spencer.

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Josué Comoe wearing shirt by Ted Baker, pants by US Polo and hat by Marks & Spencer.

 

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Gauderic Vilmaure wearing vintage Burberry trench from Kiliwatch and pants by Levis.

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Gauderic Vilmaure wearing vintage Burberry trench from Kiliwatch and pants by Levis.

 

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui.   Julio Goba wearing shirt by Ben Sherman, pullover by Kiliwatch and pants by Diesel.

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Julio Goba wearing shirt by Ben Sherman, pullover by Kiliwatch and pants by Diesel.

 

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui.  Joseph Gio Degbadjo  wearing pullover by Daniel Hechter, pants by Levis and Stetson hat.

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Joseph Gio Degbadjo wearing pullover by Daniel Hechter, pants by Levis and Stetson hat.

 

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui.  Josué Comoe wearing sweatshirt by Ron Dorf and shirt by Ben Sherman.

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Josué Comoe wearing sweatshirt by Ron Dorf and shirt by Ben Sherman.

 

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Gauderic Vilmaure in vintage Burberry trench from Kiliwatch, Josué Comoe in sweatshirt by Ron Dorf and shirt by Ben Sherman, and  Julio Goba in shirt by Ben Sherman, pullover by Kiliwatch and pants by Diesel.

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Gauderic Vilmaure in vintage Burberry trench from Kiliwatch, Josué Comoe in sweatshirt by Ron Dorf
and shirt by Ben Sherman, and Julio Goba in shirt by Ben Sherman, pullover by Kiliwatch and pants by Diesel.

 

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Gauderic Vilmaure and Josué Comoe wearing shirts by Issey Miyake.

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Gauderic Vilmaure and Josué Comoe wearing shirts by Issey Miyake.

 

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Julio Goba wearing shirt by Issey Miyake.

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Julio Goba wearing shirt by Issey Miyake.

 

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Maël Caloc ( Issey Miyake & Levis), Julio Goba (Issey Miyake), Gauderic Vilmare (Issey Miyake and Edwin), Joseph Gio Degbadjo  (Daniel Hechter and Issey Miyake), Josué Comoe (Issey Miyake and Edwin).

Photo © Mehdi Sefrioui. Maël Caloc ( Issey Miyake & Levis), Julio Goba (Issey Miyake), Gauderic Vilmaure (Issey Miyake and Edwin),
Joseph Gio Degbadjo (Daniel Hechter and Issey Miyake), Josué Comoe (Issey Miyake and Edwin).

 

About

Mehdi Sefrioui (b. Tangier, Morocco) is a fashion and art photographer based in Paris. He splits his time between the French capital and Tangier his hometown. Sefrioui got his start in 2010, encouraging his passion for the arts through street photography. Image making is a way to express life. Where in street photography Sefrioui aims to capture the ephemeral moments of life witnessed, through fashion he sees it as an apt vehicle for the imagination, a medium to express the human quest for true emotion beyond pure aesthetics and beauty.

mehdisphotography.com | facebook

 

 

‘Infro’ features Maël Caloc (The Face), Josué Comoe (Banana Models), Joseph Gio Degbadjo (Major Management), Julio Goba (City Models) and Gauderic Vilmaure (City Models) photographed by Mehdi Sefrioui. Styling by Laetitia Kandolo. Make up and hair by Juan Romero.

All images courtesy of the artist. All rights reserved.

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