By: Emily Yakashiro
Welcome to the last instalment of our year-end series of Covers & Content! Did you miss Part 1 on Elle Canada? Check it out here. Part 2 on Fashion can be found here.
This last video focuses on all of the 2013 issues of Flare, which I suggest is the most explicitly feminist Canadian fashion magazine currently. As Flare is the last of the three major Canadian fashion magazines to be reviewed, I will be comparing it to Elle Canada and Fashion, finding out which magazine is the most diverse!
Complete Transcript: “Closet Feminist Covers & Content Part 3: Flare”
Curious what Canada’s most diverse fashion magazine is? Today we find out!
Welcome the third and final video for our first-ever annual wrap up of our Covers & Content column! This video is the culmination of a project that The Closet Feminist does all year. The purpose is to look at each issue published in 2013 by the three major Canadian fashion magazines-Elle Canada, Fashion, and Flare, and determine how diverse the issue is based on the cover star and the models used in the editorials.
We’ve based our summaries on three questions:
- Does the cover feature a person of colour?
- Do any of the major editorials feature models of colour?
- Do any of the major editorials feature a “plus-size” model?
As I mentioned in the first video of this series, when I say person/model/woman of colour, I mean someone who does not appear to have white privilege at first glance. And when I say a “plus-size” model, I mean someone who does not appear to have thin privilege at first glance.
For this last video, we’ll be looking at the diversity Flare magazine. I’ll end the video by comparing it to Elle Canada and Fashion, and we’ll see which Canadian fashion magazine has the best representation of minorities. Flare printed 12 issues this year, all of which had editorials.
Flare had a positive start to the year with a woman of colour on the cover–Lea Michele from Glee.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “Star Style” in Flare January 2013. Pics by Chris Nicholls, styling by Elizabeth Cabral. Model, Ashtyn Franklin (Sutherland Models).]
The rest of the issue was fairly status quo: one horoscope-inspired editorial starring one thin, white model.
February had Paulina Gretzky on the cover, which I personally found to be an interesting choice. Canadian media has a fascination with her for obvious reasons, which is interesting since she’s American and a staunch Republican at that. In terms of fame, she seems to be famous just for her familial connection.
Given this, I wish Flare had gone with a more relevant or diverse celebrity, like Ellen Wong, the Canadian star of The Carrie Diaries, who they did a small interview with at the back of this issue.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “The Patti Smith Experience” in Flare February 2013. Pics by Max Abadian, styling by Elizabeth Cabral. Model, Anaïs Pouliot.]
Overall, the February issue was a Whiteout Issue, which I defined in the last video. It had just one editorial, featuring a thin and white model.
Flare’s March issue was definitely the low point of the year for me personally. It was a whiteout issue, featuring Charlotte Free on the cover shortly after she made some highly offensive comments about violence against women.
Above: The mood board page from Flare‘s highly problematic March issue.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “Japanese Wave” in Flare March 2013. Pics by Chris Nicholls, styling by Elizabeth Cabral. Model, Ciara (Next Los Angeles).]
The rest of the issue I found to be quite racist and problematic, as it relied heavily on cultural appropriation and Orientalism, evidently attempting to draw upon Japanese culture as an overall theme of sorts for this issue.
When this issue of Flare hit newstands in March, The Closet Feminist did an article critiquing the issue as a whole, however, it’s not the only Canadian fashion magazine to feature some seriously problematic content.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “Tokyo Pop” in Fashion April 2013. Styled by George Antonopoulos, pics by Gabor Jurina. Model, Karina Gubanova (though she is not credited in the spread).]
Indeed, as I pointed out in the last video, Fashion committed a similar faux pas with a yellow face spread which they printed in their April issue.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “Freestyling the Blues” in Flare March 2013. Pics by Max Abadian, styling by Fiona Green. Model, Charlotte Free AND “A Fine Mess”. Pics by Mark Peckmezian, styling by Elizabeth Cabral. Model, Ashtyn (Sutherland).]
Beyond this, there were three editorials including Free’s cover story, none of them had models of colour or plus-size models.
The April issue of Flare had Diane Kruger on the cover, and had two editorials which were actually relatively diverse.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “Five Easy Pieces” in Flare April 2013. Pics by Peter Ash Lee, styling by caroline Belhumeur. Model, Mackenzie Hamilton (Richards Models).]
The first editorial starred a model of colour exclusively for the first time in Flare’s 2013 publishing year.
Above: From Flare‘s April 2013 editorial. This is a good example of a Token Diversity Spread.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “Garden Variety”. Pics by Owen Bruce, styling by Corey Ng. Models, Cate Chant and Shiya Zhao (Sutherland) and Emily van Ray (Anita Norris Models).]
The second editorial was a Token Diversity Spread, which I defined in the previous video. It starred three models, but only one of them was a model of colour. None of the editorials featured plus-sized models.
May starred Christina Hendricks on the cover–the first and only magazine out of the three magazines we discuss in this project to feature a cover star who might be considered plus-size!
[Editorial Picture Credits: “The Cool Inheritance” in Flare May 2013. Styling by Fiona Green, pics by Andnrew Soule. Models, Kirsten and Billie Rose Owen.]
Other than that, May is a whiteout issue. The first editorial stars model Kirsten Owen and her daughter Billie Rose.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “pulp fashion” in Flare May 2013. Styling by Elizabeth Cabral, pics by Chris Nicholls. Model, Catrina Stella (Next Los Angeles).]
The second editorial for the May issue stars one thin, white model.
June was also a whiteout issue, starring Greta Gerwig on the cover.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “Summer of the Suit” in Flare June 2013. Styling by Fiona Green, pics by Max Abadian. Model, Hannah Holman (Ford Models) AND “Artists in Residence” pics by Norman Wong, styling by Rita Liefhebber. Model, Anna Edwards (Next).]
There were two editorials both typical and status quo, as they both starred thin, white models.
July starred Flare’s second cover star of colour–Olivia Munn! This issue was actually particularly diverse and noteworthy overall, we even wrote a piece about it, praising what we considered to be especially progressive.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “Cruel Summer” in Flare July 2013. Pics by Andrew Soule, styling by Rita Liefhebber. Model, unknown]
There was so much good stuff in this issue, yet it’s too bad that this influence didn’t spread to the editorial, which featured one thin white model.
In August, for the second month in a row, Flare chose a woman of colour for their cover: supermodel Arlenis Sosa.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “Every Day is a Luxury” in Flare August 2013. Styling, Fiona Green, pics by Jason Kim. Model, Arlenis Sosa]
Sosa starred in the only editorial for the August issue, which was Flare’s smallest issue of the year.
September was a big month for Flare. They debuted their new layout, catching the eye of major fashion news sources everywhere, though not necessarily for good reasons: Amber Heard was on the cover, and the cover was mocked widely for featuring such a boring picture of her.
Above: From one of Flare‘s September editorials.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “New Look Ahead” in Flare September 2013. Styling, Rita Liefhebber, pics by Andrew Soule. Model, Julia Dunstall (Marilyn Model Agency) AND “Into the Wild”, styling by Martha Violante, pics by Andrew Yee. Model, Li Xiao Xing (Women Management NYC).]
September’s editorials were pretty good, one starring a model of colour exclusively, the other starring one thin, white model.
October saw Kerry Washington on the cover, another woman of colour which was definitely encouraging.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “You’re Not From Around These Parts” in Flare October 2013. Styling by Rita Liefhebber, pics by Andrew Soule. Model, Julia Dunstall (Marilyn Model Agency).]
This issue had two editorials, the first starring a thin white model.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “In the Mix” in October Flare 2013. Styling by Tiyana Grulovic, pics by Miguel Jacob. Models, Vita Chambers, Carmen Elle, Devon Sproule, Basia Bulat, Elise Legrow, Shi Wisdom.]
The other was a Token Diversity Spread starring six Toronto-based musicians. Of these six, just two were women of colour, and only one of these women could be considered ‘plus size’.
November also starred a woman of colour-Alexa Chung! Like Elle Canada, November’s issue of Flare was particularly noteworthy, and again, we wrote a whole article dedicated to its awesomeness.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “Schooled by Alexa” in Flare November 2013. Styling, Kemal Harris, pics by Jason Kim. Model, Alexa Chung AND “Pastels Take Shape”, styling by Corey Ng, pics by Petra Collins. Model, Romane Villeneuve (Dulcedo Model Management) AND “Moving Pieces” styled by Tiyana Grulovic, pics by Norman Wong. Model, Marie-Eve (Next Models).]
The editorials were less diverse–of the three printed, only Chung’s cover story could be an editorial featuring a woman of colour. None of them had a plus-size model.
Flare closed out their year with a whiteout issue, which is really too bad since we love cover star Kristen Bell and the general girl-power feel of the whole issue.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “This Modern Lust” in Flare December 2013. Styling by Rita Liefhebber, pics by Autumn de Wilde. Model, Lizzy Caplan]
There were two editorials in the December issue–one starring comedienne Lizzy Caplan who is a Closet Feminist favourite.
[Editorial Picture Credits: “New Order” in Flare December 2013. Styling by Tiyana Grulovic, pics by Andrew Yee. Models, Masha (Folio) and Britt B. (Elmer Olsen Models).]
The second editorial featured two thin, white models.
Okay, so let’s recap:
Flare, during 2013 put out 12 issues. Of these 12, 5 featured cover stars of colour.
They had a total of 22 editorials, six of which featured models of colour. Since two of these were Token Diversity Spreads, however, there was only 4 editorials from Flare this year that starred a model of colour exclusively. There was just one issue of Flare that featured one plus-size model for one page, the same as Elle Canada.
Overall, I will say that personally, Flare is definitely my favourite Canadian fashion magazine. Their makeover that took place in September was a smart move, and even before that it was clear to me that Flare is a feminist fashion magazine.
Looking back on all the issues of all three magazines, I would say Elle Canada is also quite feminist. They both had double the amount of cover stars of colour than Fashion, and clearly make efforts in their reporting to recognize the work of women of all backgrounds. There’s always room for improvement though, and until I see the erasure of Whiteout Issues and Token Diversity Spreads entirely from all three magazines, I can’t say that I’ll be completely at ease with the work they are doing.
Above: A review of all three magazines for comparison.
So that wraps up our first annual summary of our Covers & Content column. Diversity in Canadian fashion magazines is really important, and The Closet Feminist will continue to monitor the progress of Elle Canada, Fashion, and Flare in the coming year. Join us every month for a summary of each magazine on theclosetfeminist.ca
Whiteout Issue: an issue of a fashion magazine where neither the cover star nor models booked/used for any of the major editorials are people of colour.
Token Diversity Spread: When a fashion magazine books/uses an ensemble of models, including some models of colour or models representing other minorities in the fashion world (i.e., plus size models or visibly older models), but are careful not to allow the minorities chosen to make up the majority of the spread or the majority of models chosen.