Saturday, January 28, 2012


Around 1970, a woman in a dress shop in Paris told my mother that she dressed very stylishly 'pour une Juive'. No one in my family ever shopped there again, although they probably didn't notice. This story is unimportant, except that it popped immediately into my mind when I saw that French ELLE ran an article, by Nathalie Dolivo, which claims that only now that Obama is president are African-Americans finally fashionable.

Yes, it is that crazy. Yahoo has the story.

If a fashion writer for French Elle is to be believed—and she is not—African-Americans weren't stylish until the Obama family came into office.

"For the first time, the chic has become a plausible option for a community so far pegged [only] to its street wear codes," writes Nathalie Dolivo in a post translated from the magazine's website titled 'Black Fashion Power.'

And if this sweeping stereotyping and flat-out ignorance weren't already off base, Dolivo goes on to explain why the so-called Obama renaissance of style is so "chic." According to her assessment, it embraces "white codes" while still making what she calls "a bourgeois ethnic reference (a batik-printed turban/robe, a shell necklace, a 'créole de rappeur') reminiscent [of] the roots."

It is almost beyond belief that this woman seriously thinks that African-Americans have not always been stylish. Think of the black women who have made such a splash in fashion over the years, or think of the black women you know, and how beautifully they dress. It's a shame that the kind of condescension my mother faced forty years ago as a young woman in Paris is apparently still considered appropriate at a top women's magazine.

I collect evil-eye charms of all kinds, and like to pair them with almost everything I wear. I think that from now on I shall tell people they are my 'bourgeois ethnic references'. Do you like it?

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