Covers & Content: April 2017

How diverse were the April 2017 issues of Canada’s top fashion magazines? We report on this every month, taking into consideration the cover star as well as the representation in the fashion editorials. Read on to find out how this month’s issues fared.

The Magazine: FASHION

The Cover Star: Coco Rocha

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: Yes. There were two fashion editorials this month, excluding Rocha’s cover story. One starred one thin, black model, and the second starred one thin, white model.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No.

The Magazine: Elle Canada

The Cover Star: Emma Watson

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: Yes. There were two fashion editorials this month. The first starred one thin, white model.The second starred one thin, black model.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No.

Fashion’s Best Feminist Ally: Zac Posen


Above: Zac Posen accompanies Naomi Campell, who closed his Fall RTW 2015 show.

If ever fashion’s feminists had an ally, it would definitely be Zac Posen.

Why, might you ask, does this particular designer deserve this title?


Above: Zac Posen Fall 2015

Posen’s runway shows and lookbooks consistently feature more models of colour than his other New York design peers.


Above: Zac Posen Spring 2015

He very frequently collaborates, works with, and otherwise supports of Canadian model and activist Coco Rocha, whose own work is no doubt feminist. Typically speaking, if you run with feminists, you’re a feminist yourself.


Above: Zac Posen Fall 2015

Posen sought to make queer-friendly and tomboy looks accessible to the mainstream with his 2010 Target collaboration. This is a pretty notable action from a major designer, especially considering fashion has a bad habit of turning a blind eye to folks who prefer more butch and androgynous outfits.


Above: Zac Posen Pre-Fall 2015

Posen is further known for embracing ‘plus’ size design, even tackling the tricky world of wedding dresses.

We’re not the only ones noting Posen’s efforts–Refinery29 has named him the Patron Saint of Model Diversity, and the fashion activist Bethann Hardison has applauded his efforts for years.

ZacPosen_Spring2015_01Above: Zac Posen Spring 2015

Here at The Closet Feminist, we highlight female designers as much as possible, and definitely consider Posen’s work a beautiful commitment to women as well. Three cheers for fashion’s most valuable ally!


Above: Zac Posen Spring 2015

Covers & Content: November 2014

How did major Canadian fashion magazines stack up this month in terms of diversity? Read on to find out.

Scan 3

The Cover Star: Coco Rocha

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: Yes. There were two fashion editorials this month, the first starred one thin, white model. The second editorial starred an ensemble of 6 models, 2 who were of colour.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No

Scan 4

The Cover Star: Lizzy Caplan

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: Yes. There were three editorials in this issue, two starred one thin, white model each. One editorial starred one woman of colour.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No

Scan 5

The Cover Star: Taylor Swift

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: No. There were two editorials and both featured one thin, white model making this issue of Fashion a Whiteout Issue.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No

Covers & Content Annual Review, Part 2: Fashion

By: Emily Yakashiro

Our first birthday is tomorrow! Starting the celebration early, here’s a new video for you: part two of our three-part video series summing up our monthly column Covers & Content. Did you miss our first video/part one? Check it out here.

This instalment focuses on all of the 2013 issues of “Canada’s #1 Fashion and Beauty Magazine,” Fashion. In this video I introduce two new terms to better identify patterns of diversity, and lack thereof in our three Canadian fashion magazines, including “whiteout issue” and “Token Diversity Spread“. I also discuss Fashion‘s yellow-face spread they published earlier this year.

Complete Transcript: “Closet Feminist Covers & Content Part 2: Fashion

Hi everyone, welcome to The Closet Feminist’s second video of our three-part series wrapping up our monthly column Covers and Content.

In the last video, I looked at the cover stars and editorials of Elle Canada, and for this video, I’m going to focus on Fashion, Canada’s most popular fashion magazine*

As a quick recap about this project*, Covers & Content is our monthly column where we take a look at each of the three major Canadian fashion magazines: Elle Canada, Fashion, and Flare, to see how they are faring in terms of diversity. When going through each issue, we ask three main questions:

  1. Does the cover feature a person of colour?
  2. Do any of the major editorials feature models of colour?
  3. Do any of the major editorials feature a “plus-size” model?

So let’s take a look at what Fashion had to offer in terms of diversity for the 2013 year.

Fashion put out 11 issues this year,  with their Winter and Summer issues covering December 2012 and January 2013 and June/July respectively.

Fashion started out their year with Canadian super model Coco Rocha on the cover. We love Rocha for her activism, as seen in this last year especially with her efforts to protect the rights of underage models.

At this point in this project, I’d like to introduce a phrase to describe a fashion magazine which has a white cover star and no models of colour in their editorials: a whiteout issue.

[Picture credits: “Hot Coco” in Fashion January/Winter 2013. Styled by Zeina Esmail, photographs by Gabor Jurina. Model, Coco Rocha AND “Period Drama” styled by George Antonopoulos, pics by Gabor Jurina. Model unknown, though curiously the prop furniture is credited… AND “Blush Hour” styled by Tammy Eckenswiller, pics by Seiji Fujimoro. Model unknown.]

For example, I would describe the January issue of Fashion as a whiteout issue. Despite a great cover star, Fashion starts their year off with three editorials if you include Rocha’s cover story, all using thin, white models.

FA March Ed 2B

Picture above: from “The Artist” styled by George Antonopoulos in Fashion March 2013. Pics by Moo. Model, Kirsten Owen.

[Editorial Picture Credits in Video: “Who are Hue?” in Elle Canada April 2013 styled by Cloe Legault, pics by Jean-Claude Lussier. Model, Kayley Chabot (Elite Toronto) AND “Power Chic”, styled by Fritz, pics by Nelson Simoneau. Model, Erin MacDonald (Elite Model Management)]

I want to emphasize that a “whiteout issue” is not something unique to Fashion. In fact, you might recall from the first Covers & Content video that Elle Canada had 6 whiteout issues, which  technically comprised half of their publishing year as they put out a total of 12 issues in 2013.

Returning to Fashion, February saw to another great cover star–Krysten Ritter! She’s a Closet Feminist favourite for being an out loud and proud feminist and having great style!

[Editorial Picture Credits: “(de)signs of Spring” in Fashion Feb 2013 styled by Zeina Esmail, pics by Gabor Jurina. Model, Grace Mahary AND “math test” styled by Zeina Esmail, pics by Richard Bernardin. Model, unknown.]

The issue is definitely more positive than the January one, because it has two editorials, one starring a model of colour Grace Mahary!

The March issue saw to Fashion’s first cover star of colour, Hailee Steinfeld, who incidentally had nothing but good things to say about feminist super star Tavi Gevinson.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Busy Bodies” in Fashion March 2013 styled by Zeina Esmail, pics by Jamie Nelson. Model, unknown. AND  “The Artist” styled by George Antonopoulos, pics by Moo. Model, Kirsten Owen]

The March issue had two editorials, but both of them were disappointingly status quo starring one thin white model each.

April starred Canadian actress and star of the hit-show Revenge, Emily VanCamp on the cover. While VanCamps interview was great, the rest of this whiteout issue was a total disaster.

The April issue had two editorials, the first one called “Tokyo Pop” was incredibly offensive and racist. I would go so far as to say that it is portraying yellow-face, with the kabuki-esque makeup and samurai top knot hairstyle. I’d also like to point out that though it is obvious, this is NOT an Asian model, it is a model named Karina Gubanova.

FA April Ed 1B

Picture above: from the highly offensive/yellow-face spread called “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).

This trainwreck of racism, Orientalism, and stereotyping was evocative of Katy Perry’s highly offensive AMA performance. In both the Fashion spread on the left and Perry’s performance on the right, we see white woman wearing a panoply of “Asian-inspired” clothing, though in both cases the outfits are being passed off as specifically Japanese.

We see our model eating sushi splay-legged on a sidewalk curb, and sitting on a fire hydrant with a Hello Kitty pillow across her lap.

Then again, what can I expect from a spread that is described as having, “cartoon colours and Asian cuts [which] bring a manga mood to the streets of Miami”. Give me a break Fashion, this spread sucks.

[Editorial picture credit: “Metallica”  in Fashion April 2013 styled by Zeina Esmail, pics by Chris Nicholls. Model, unknown]

The other spread, while not incredibly racist, is rather entirely forgettable, starring one thin white model.

Fashion’s May issue had Isla Fisher on the cover. Ironically, this is called the “Age Issue”, and poor Fisher–she’s only 37 years old, yet to quote Arrested Development Fashion , “airbrushed her into oblivion”.

[Editorial Picture Credit: “High Contrast” in Fashion May 2013 styled by Zeina Esmail, pics by Chris Nicholls. Model, unknown]

This month was a whiteout issue, having two editorials–the one shown with a thin white model, but the other one was actually quite exciting.

[Editorial PIcture Credit: “Animal Attraction”, styled by Susie Sheffman, pics by Gabor Jurina. Model, Donna DeMarco]

The second editorial starred 68-year-old Canadian model Donna DeMarco! DeMarco is white, but it was exciting to see Fashion stray from the status quo  somewhat as we know fashion and the media in general worships youth and young models.

Next we come to Fashion’s “Summer Issue” which covered June and July. It was a whiteout issue, with Lana del Rey on the cover.

 [Editorial Picture Credits: “central air” styled by Zeina Esmail, pics by Gabor Jurina. Model, unknown. AND “Lana Mania” styled by Heidi Meck, pics by Mark Wiliams and Sara Hirakawa. Model, Lana del Rey.]

There were two editorials–one was del Rey’s cover story, the other starred a thin white model.

With August came Demi Lovato on the cover, who is a woman of colour. I will say right now that Lovato’s cover story was my favourite of Fashion’s publishing year. I wasn’t really all that familiar with Lovato before I read this interview, but I will say now I am a total fan.

She shared some brilliant insights, and definitely seems like she’s a feminist even if she didn’t explicitly say so in her interview– and you can’t go wrong with that!

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Ferocity” styled by George Antonopoulos, pics by Moo. Model, Alyssah Ali, though she is not credited in the editorial. AND “Demi Goddess” styled by Zeina Esmail, pics by Chris Nicholls. Model, Demi Lovato.]

Lovato’s inspiring attitude evidently caught on with Fashion in August, because Demi had her own editorial, and the other one printed starred a model of colour!

Next up is the big one–Fashion’s September issue. For their most important issue of the year, Fashion chose Olivia Wilde for the cover.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Grey Zone” styled by Zeina Esmail, pics by Chris Nicholls. Model, unknown. AND “Public Enemy” styled by George Antonopoulos, pics by Gabor Jurina. Models, unknown.]

They had two editorials this month–one starring a thin model of colour, the other starring two thin white models.

October to me was curious. Canadian supermodel Dara Werebowy was on the cover–which, by the way, is her ninth cover for Fashion. I’m sorry, but if Werebowy has had the cover 8 times before, why didn’t they go with someone different like say a woman of colour or someone who is plus-size?

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Daria” styled by Zeina Esmail, pics by Chris Nicholls. Model, Daria Werebowy]

Even though her interview was quite good and she had lots of interesting things to say, it seemed like a wasted opportunity to diversify their publication.

Before discussing the other October editorial, I’d like to take the opportunity to introduce another new term: a Token Diversity Spread. A Token Diversity Spread is when a fashion magazine hires an ensemble of models for one editorial, being careful to choose a couple models representing minorities, but never allowing such models to make up the majority.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Graphic Games” in Elle Canada May 2013, styled by Sara Bruneau and Anthony Mitropoulos, pics by Leda & St. Jacques. Models: Valerie & Emily (Ben Barry Agency), Ran (Dulcedo Model Management), Marie-Josée Perreault & Jessica Langlois (Scoop Agency), Elisabeth (Specs), Naro Lokurka (Push), and Leda Montereali (Rodeo)]

Like a whiteout issue, a Token Diversity Spread is not unique to Fashion. For example, I noted in the first Covers & Content video that one of Elle Canada’s May editorials called “Graphic Games” had what I would now call a Token Diversity Spread. They hired “9 striking women”, and while they were all sizes and ages, just 3 of the women were models of colour.

[Editorial Picture Credit: “Reach for the Top” in Fashion October 2013 styled by George Antonopoulos, pics by Gabor Jurina. Models, unfortunately unknown.]

Getting back to Fashion’s October editorial, I would say it is a Token Diversity Spread. To be honest, I was a bit stumped at first with this editorial. While Fashion declared this shoot to be “experimental”, I found that to be code for “poor lighting and distant shots of the models’ faces”, which, until you zoom in on the pictures like I’ve done here, it’s a little tough to see at first glance that there are women of colour present at all.

Indeed, between the darker lighting used for the shoot and the fact that they unfortunately yet unsurprisingly didn’t name the models used anywhere in the magazine, I cannot say for certain how many models of colour were booked for this shoot, but I can say there was at least one, and that none of the models used in this editorial were plus size.

Fashion’s November issue had Miley Cyrus on the cover–10 days after her tour-de-force racist performance at the VMAs. Given this, and the offensive editorial from back in April we seriously debated cancelling our Fashion subscription, which we discussed with our readers on The Closet Feminist’s Facebook page.

[Editorial Picture Credit: “Passing Time” styled by Zeina Esmail, pics by Chris Nicholls. Model, unknown]

While they may have chosen a problematic cover star, their editorials were a slight comfort. There were two, one starring a thin white model.

FA Nov Ed 2B

Picture above of Model Alaud, from Fashion November 2013.

[Editorial Picture Credit: “In Synch” in Fashion November 2013 styled by George Anotonopoulos, pics by Gabor Jurina. Models: Dauphine McKee, Naro, Shelby, Vita, Lauren, Jessa, and Alaud. Last names and agencies unknown.]

The other November editorial was a Token Diversity Spread of Canadian models with two out of seven models being models of colour, and no plus-size models.

Fashion closed out the year with a surprise appearance from Courtney Love on the cover for their December 2013/January 2014 issue.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Lady in Waiting” styled by George Antonopoulos, pics by Gabor Jurina. Model, unknown. AND “Heroine Chic” styled by Zeina Esmail, pics by Chris Nicholls. Models, unknown, though the animal handlers are credited]

Overall, it  December was a whiteout issue: they had two editorials, both of them starring thin, white models.

Okay, let’s recap:

Fashion, during 2013 put out 11 issues. Only two of these issues featured cover stars of colour.

They had a total of 23 editorials printed this year. Of these 23 editorials, 5 featured models of colour. Keep in mind that since 2 of those editorials were Token Diversity Spreads, just 3 editorials starred models of colour exclusively. There was not a single issue of Fashion that featured a plus-size model this year.

I gotta say that overall, in my personal opinion, Fashion is my least favourite Canadian fashion magazine right now. It’s like a Canadian Vogue, and not in a good way–it’s elitist, and focused on a culture of luxury that isn’t relevant to me as a reader.

Furthermore, “diversity” to Fashion seems to mean hiring thin, black models occasionally. For example, there are no asian models in any issue, yet they hired a white model to essentially do a yellow-face spread in April. Bottom line: there are no models of any other visible ethnicities, and no plus size models anywhere.

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 3.23.20 PM

While it would seem at first glance that Fashion did really well this year in terms of diversity, in fact doing better than Elle Canada overall, I’m sorry to say, but I don’t have high hopes for Fashion in 2014. But you never know–they could really change things up in the new year, and I would have to eat my words this time next year. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

Join me next time for our third and final video for “Covers & Content” where I’m going to take a look at Flare and their 2013 year.


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.

*For elaboration of what I mean when I say “model of colour” and “plus size model”, please see the first video.


*Was technically called the “Winter issue”, comprising the December 2012/January 2013 issue. 

**Similarly, the Jun/July issue was rolled into one and called the “Summer” issue.

***The year end-issue, again called the “Winter” issue covers Dec 2013/Jan 2014.

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