Covers & Content Annual Review 2016, Part 3: Flare

The 2016 publishing year is over for our three favourite Canadian fashion magazines, so it’s time to look back on every issue printed this year by Elle Canada, Fashion, and Flare, to see how diverse they were overall compared to last year. Up next is FASHION!

For a review of the Covers & Content project, please check out the FAQ page here.

Closet Feminist Terminology

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.

Has FASHION improved at all over the years? Check out our data from the last three years.

FASHION 2013 Annual Review

FASHION 2014 Annual Review

FASHION 2015 Annual Review

Did you miss Part 1 of our 2016 review focused on Elle Canada? Check it out here.

Part 2 of our 2016 review focused on FASHION can be found here.

***

This review is bittersweet, because as of January, 2017, FLARE will no longer be doing print issues. Flare was not perfect, but it’s reporting was timely and interesting. We will truly miss this Canadian fashion magazine.

That being said, did this glossy go out with a bang or a whimper? Read on to find out.

JANUARY

The January 2016 issue of Flare was technically its Winter 2015 issue, covering December 2015 as well.

Grimes was on the cover. There was one fashion editorial in this issue featuring one thin, white model, making this issue of Flare a Whiteout Issue.

FEBRUARY

Ilana and Abbi of Broad City were on the cover.

There was one fashion editorial in this issue featuring one thin, white model, making this issue of Flare a Whiteout Issue as well.

MARCH

Rebel Wilson was on the cover.

For a third month in a row, Flare put out a Whiteout Issue–the one fashion editorial this month featured one thin, white model.

APRIL

The April cover of Flare featured Ania Boniecka, Sonya Esman, Alanna Durkovich, Kayla Seah, and Dajana Rads. It bears noting that the cover was really more of a tedious Joe Fresh advertorial.

There was one fashion editorial in the April issue, starring one thin, white model.

MAY

Shay Mitchell was on the cover.

There was one fashion editorial this month starring one thin, white model.

JUNE/JULY

The Summer issue of Flare featured Ellie Goulding on the cover.

There were two fashion editorials in this issue. The first starred a thin, mixed-race model, the second starred Caitriona Balfe who is thin and white.

AUGUST

Herieth Paul was on the cover.

Above: Herieth Paul in Flare’s August issue.

There were two fashion editorials, counting Paul’s cover story. The second editorial starred one thin, white model.

SEPTEMBER

Priyanka Chopra was on the cover.

There was one fashion editorial in this issue, starring one thin, white model.

OCTOBER

Bella Hadid was on the cover.

Above: From the second fashion editorial in Flare October 2016

There were two editorials in this issue including Hadid’s cover story. The second editorial featured three thin models, two of them were women of colour.

NOVEMBER

Mandy Moore was on the cover.

Above: Evy Jane stars in the one fashion editorial in Flare November 2016

There was one fashion editorial in this month’s issue, starring one thin model of colour.

DECEMBER

Aww, Flare’s last print issue 🙁

Anna Kendrick was on the cover.

There was one fashion editorial in this month’s issue, starring one thin model of colour.

Covers & Content: May 2016

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

flare_may2016

The Cover Star: Shay Mitchell

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: Mixed race

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: There was one fashion editorial in this issue, starring one thin, white model.

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

ElleCanada_may2016_Cover_QUEENBEY

 

The Cover Star: Beyoncé

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: Black/mixed race

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: No. There were two fashion editorials in this issue. The first starred two thin, white models. The second starred one thin, white model.

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

 

 

The Cover Star: Olivia Munn

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: Mixed race

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: There was one fashion editorial in this issue, starring one thin, white model.

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

Covers & Content Annual Review, Part 1: Elle Canada

By: Emily Yakashiro

We’ve officially got a whole 12 months worth of data for our monthly column “Covers & Content“! To celebrate, we’re wrapping up our year-end summary of this column by making three videos to examine each of the three major Canadian fashion magazines including Fashion, Flare, and Elle Canada. We’re going in alphabetical order, so Elle Canada is up first! Please see the video complete with the transcript below.

Complete Transcript: “Closet Feminist Covers & Content Video 1: Elle Canada”

Hey folks welcome to the first annual summary of Covers & Content! The Closet Feminist turns a year old on December 10th, and to celebrate it seemed like a good idea to make some new videos!

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?

I want to clarify a few things with these questions.

EC Sept '13 Whiteness

[Editorial Picture Credits: “New Look” in Elle Canada September 2013. Styled by Sara Bruneau, pics by Richard Bernardin. Model, Bianca (Specs)]

First, 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.

Second, we focus on the cover star because their persona and face is what is used to draw in readers and actually sell the magazine. Who is put on the cover says a lot about who that magazine considers worthy of recognition, further fame and notoriety, and is generally powerful enough to draw a crowd.

Third, the editorials, or major fashion stories of each issue are being examined because they are a fashion magazine’s raison d’etre, and are their major feat for each month. Editorials arguably represent the culmination of the ideals and inspiration for each issue. Who they hire to show off their opus of the month, the models, says a lot.

[Picture credit: “What is Punk” in Elle Canada September 2013. Styled by Anthony Mitropoulos, photographs by Leda & St. Jacques. Models, Masha (Folio) and Zoe Colivas (Sutherland Models)]

To be clear: whiteness and thinness is not an aesthetic, or artistic preference, though many designers and folks involved in the fashion industry argue otherwise. Continuing to privilege thinness and whiteness* upholds or indicates a prejudice against those who do not fit into that category.

Fourth, I recognize that diversity means a lot of things including gender, sexual orientation, abilities, and so forth. For the purpose of this study I have zeroed in on weight and race in particular because it is something I feel comfortable keeping track of*. Keeping track of models of colour and plus size models seems the most accessible to me for this project, though again, I recognize “diversity” means more than that.

Lastly, this may seem a little obvious, but we’re looking at Elle Canada, Fashion, and Flare, because they are the three major Canadian magazines. Being a Canadian website, The Closet Feminist is especially interested in the fashion-related media produced in this country, so we subscribe to all three. The covers shown in this video are the subscriber covers, and might look a little different than the newsstand covers did.

This annual summary is a lot of work–we’re going through over 30 magazines, so we’re going to be breaking this report up into three videos, one per each magazine. We’ll put the summary of the each magazine in table format on the website proper along with the transcript for each video.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at our first magazine: Elle Canada!

Elle Canada put out 12 issues this year, 10 of which had editorials.

January 2013 was a great start for Elle Canada. Jennifer Lopez was on the cover, and there were two editorials in the magazine, one featuring Canadian model Grace Mahary, who is a woman of colour. Neither editorial had a plus-size model.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “In the Desert Heat” in Elle Canada January 2013. Styled by Fritz, photos by Jean-Claude Lussier. Model, Elyse Saunders (Elmer Olsen Model Management) AND “”Black or White?” in same issue, styled by Sara Bruneau, photos by Leda & St. Jacques. Model, Grace Mahary (Elmer Olsen Model Management)]

The February issue was the highlight of the year in my opinion. Despite being thin on inspirational fashion content including missing an editorial entirely, it starred Janelle Monae on the cover, who is definitely a Closet Feminist favourite.  Her interview with Elle Canada reporter Kathryn Hudson is totally inspiring.

March saw Canadian Mad Men star Jessica Paré on the cover. Something interesting I’ve noticed personally that whenever she is interviewed in a magazine, there is a heavy focus on her character, Megan, on Mad Men, and her relationship to Don Draper–not all that much on Paré herself which is curious. I love Mad Men as much as the next gal, but I hate when interviews with women are so focused on the men in their lives.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Top Hits” in Elle Canada March 2013, styled by Anthony Mitropoulos, pictures by Leda & St. Jacques. Models, Irina Lazareanu (Push Management) and Zuzana (Folio Montreal) AND “POP” in the same issue, styled by Sara Bruneau, photos by Neil Mota. Model, Chantal Stafford-Abbott (Specs Model Management)]

Paré aside, the March issue had two editorials, though neither of them had a model of colour or a plus-size model.

April’s Elle Canada had Victoria Beckham on the cover. While Beckham said some very interesting, feminist things,  Elle Canada fell flat again in terms of diversity: three editorials, zero models of colour, and no plus size models.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Who are Hue?” in Elle Canada April 2013 styled by Cloe Legault, pics by Jean-Claude Lussier. Model, Kayley Chabot (Elite Toronto) AND “In the Sun”, styled by Azamit, pics by Leda & St. Jacques. Model, Amanda Laine (Elmer Olsen Model Management) AND “Power Chic”, styled by Fritz, pics by Nelson Simoneau. Model, Erin MacDonald (Elite Model Management)]

May saw Elle Canada’s second cover star of colour–Canadian model Grace Mahary! However, it’s important to note that Mahary doesn’t even get an interview or cover story in the magazine, she’s just in one of the editorials. This leads me to feel that her cover appearance was a token gesture of diversity.

The May issue had three editorials.The third editorial–the one pictured– is fantastic–it features nine different models of all ages, shapes, sizes, including models of colour.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Graphic Games”, 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)]

While this is exciting and different, it’s also interesting that minorities in the fashion world seem to have to share a spread–they rarely, if ever, seem to get one of their own, especially for older models and plus-size models.

EC May Ed 3c

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Lumière” in Elle Canada May 2013 styled by Fritz, pics by Neil Mota. Model, Erin Macdonald (Elite Toronto) AND “Tokyo Society” styled by Sara Bruneau, pics by Leda & St. Jacques. Model, Kori Richardson (Elmer Olsen)]

I’d also like to note that it wasn’t like the May issue was lacking the page space to allow for a more diverse editorial. The first editorial starring one thin, white model got ten pages, the second editorial also starring a thin, white model had 10 pages as well!

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Graphic Games”, 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)]

In total, there’s about thirty pages available for diverse representation in fashion, yet only 9 were spent on minorities. Now, it’s better to have these minorities have one page each than nothing at all–but just barely.

Moving on to June, Elle Canada put Rebecca Hall on their cover. Despite lackluster fashion inspiration overall, the issue contained two fantastic articles on fashion and cultural appropriation which made it worth the buy.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Rive Gauche” in Elle Canada June 2013. Styled by Azamit, pics by Leda & St. Jacques. Model, Erin Macdonald AND “Dolce Vita” same issue, styled by Sara Bruneau, pics by same people. Model, Amanda Laine (Elmer Olsen)]

Too bad the June editorials weren’t as inspiring–they both starred thin, white models. Pretty boring if you ask me, yet between the two editorials the models got a whopping 22 pages.

July was probably my second-favourite cover story which starred Canadian actress Shay Mitchell! Mitchell gave an engaging, nuanced interview discussing everything from her identity as someone who is mixed race to her activism to help end sex trafficking. Maybe I’m being a bit biased because she grew up here in Vancouver, but seriously, great choice Elle Canada for a cover star.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Paris Blues” in Elle Canada July 2013, styled by Fritz, pics by Neil Mota. Model, Charlotte (Folio) AND “Free Spirit”, same issue, styled by Sara Bruneau, pics by Leda & St. Jacques. Model, Erin MacDonald]

This issue was also noteworthy for a few other things, which we wrote about on the CF in June. And thank god for Shay Mitchell, because the rest of the issue was a snooze–two editorials, both starring thin and white models.

August to me was probably the most laughable issue to be brutally honest. It didn’t have an editorial, and its cover star, blonde hair and green eye’d Dauphine McKee didn’t even get a full interview–just a paragraph about her! I don’t even know if we should count her as a cover star it was so bizarre.

That being said, at least she got a paragraph. When Grace Mahary was on the cover back in May, she didn’t get anything in terms of a cover story or interview. Was this an oversight or a coincidence? I think not. Society privileges white voices, and this discrepancy is a prime example of that.

And now comes the biggest issue for any fashion magazine, Canadian or not: The September Issue!

[Editorial Picture Credits: “New Look” in Elle Canada September 2013. Styled by Sara Bruneau, pics by Richard Bernardin. Model, Bianca (Specs) AND “Boys Club” same issue, styled by Anthony Mitropoulos, pics by Raphael Mazzucco. Model, Anaïs Pouliot (Folio Montreal) AND “What is Punk” in Elle Canada September 2013. Styled by Anthony Mitropoulos, photographs by Leda & St. Jacques. Models, Masha (Folio) and Zoe Colivas (Sutherland Models)]

Elle Canada’s September issue starred Lily Collins on the cover, and of its three editorials, only one featured a model of colour, and no plus size models. Pretty underwhelming for their biggest issue of the year, I gotta say.

Elle Canada’s October starred Katy Perry on the cover. The rest of the issue  saw a decline in diversity, not that Elle Canada’s September issue was particularly diverse in the first place.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “In the Navy” styled by Azamit, pics by Jean-Claude Lussier. Model, Liisa Winkler (Elite) AND “Secret Cabin in the Woods” styled by Fritz, pics by Leda & St. Jacques. Model, Elise (Elmer Olsen) AND “Era of Chic” styled by Fritz, pics by Nelson Simoneau. Model, Zoe Colivas (Sutherland)]

There were  three editorials, none of which had a model of colour or a plus-size model. It’s a shame, because I thought the styling in these shoots was actually pretty good. I just wish they had hired models of colour to show off such great outfits.

November had Scarlett Johansson on the cover. This issue had three particularly exciting, progressive articles, which we wrote about when the issue originally came out.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Big Easy” styled by Cloe Legault, pics by Nelson Simoneau. Model, Dauphine (Elmer Olsen) AND “Cool Girl” styled by Fritz, pics by Neil Mota. Model, Ryan (Folio) AND “RED” styled by Sara Bruneau, pics by Leda & St. Jacques. Model, Pamela (Montage Models)]

Despite these positive step forwards, Elle Canada took three steps back. For the second month in a row, they had three editorials, but none of them had a single model of colour or plus-sized model.

Elle Canada closed out their publishing year by having a blonde hair, light-eye’d cover star for the second month in a row–even if it is the amazing Jennifer Lawrence, it says something about diversity.

[Editorial Picture Credits: “Showgirl” styled by Sara Bruneau, pics by Jean-Claude Lussier. Model, Charlotte (Folio) AND “Belle de Jour” styled by Fritz, pics by Neil Mota. Model, Dajana (Elmer Olsen) AND “The Birds” styled by Cloe Legault, pics by Leda & St. Jacques. Model, Pamela (Montage)]

Incidentally, things rather end on a sour note for Elle Canada, at least for 2013: for the third month in a row, three editorials were printed but not a single model of colour or plus size model to be found–all three editorials featured thin, white models.

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 4.09.55 PM

*Recall that neither the February nor the August issue had editorials. The May issue featured one plus size model for one page only in the spread “Graphic Lines”, and the models of colour in the May issue were in the same spread, but did not have an editorial of their own.

To recap, Elle Canada during 2013 had a total of 12 issues.  4 issues had cover stars who are women of colour. They had a total of 27 editorials printed this year, and just 2 starred models of colour! Just one editorial featured 1 plus-sized model for 1 page. And just think–for three months in a row-October, November, and December, Elle Canada had three editorials each issue, and for those three months, they did not book a single model of colour or plus-sized model.

I think the numbers speak for themselves on this one.

As Editor-in-Chief, I will continue to support Elle Canada‘s work by subscribing to their magazine, but if I were not doing this website, I gotta wonder if I would still buy or subscribe to this magazine, as I hardly see myself or my friends represented in these pages.

I do have high hopes for 2014 though–they’ve had some of the most interesting, thought-provoking and progressive articles I’ve seen in one magazine for one year, and I’d  really like to see those thoughts reflected in their editorials in the coming year.  So that’s it for Elle Canada, join me next time where I’ll take a look at Fashion‘s 2013 year.

 

 

 

 

 

*Editorials are creative undertakings, and imagine different possibilities for fashion and style. When magazines continue to hire thin, white models for their shoots, it means its because that is who they think should be wearing the clothes shown, and who they consider to be worthy of press and page space.  If you’re seeing certain bodies and faces missing from the pages of an editorial, it means the magazine producing that editorial doesn’t care about fashion and style for those people, nor can they imagine anything beyond the status quo norm of thin and white. Indeed, based on the criteria we use for Covers & Content, none of The Closet Feminist editors, including myself, are people and figures considered important to most Canadian fashion magazines as you will soon see.

** For example, you can’t immediately see someone’s sexual orientation, and a lot of people have “invisible” disabilities, meaning you cannot see them unless you get to know the person more and they share that part of their life with you. Lastly, I can assume someone’s gender identity, but you know what they say about assuming things.

It Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This: The Elle Canada & Flare July 2013 Issues

3

Above: Shay Mitchell in Elle Canada July 2013.

As you might be able to tell from following our Covers & Content series, we take Canadian fashion magazines pretty seriously. We comb through the pages carefully, taking note of the very best to the downright offensive of every issue.

tumblr_mociflCXJe1qlv7wdo1_1280

Above: Olivia Munn in Flare July 2013.

That’s why we are particularly excited about the July issues of both Elle Canada and Flare. Both magazines seem to have exceptional coverage of relatively progressive viewpoints this month (except one, and we’ll get to that later), as well as being inclusive of more voices of minorities than we’ve seen in these magazines for a while (that being said, Elle Canada was on fire last month!). So here’s what caught our eye:

1. Both Flare and Elle Canada have women of colour on their July covers! Actually, to be precise, not only are they of colour, they’re mixed race! Elle Canada has Shay Mitchell on the cover, and Flare has Olivia Munn.

2. Elle Canada featured an article by Christina Reynolds called “Close-Knit” which took a close look at labour practices and clothing manufacturing by looking at the Thailand-based factory of Canadian designers Pure & Co Ltd (who also run Neon Buddha). In light of the many tragic factory fires in Dhaka and Tazreen in Bangladesh and Karachi, Pakistan, it is an interesting take on how to build a business that is both safe and fair for workers and the environment.

3. Flare has a short interview with Katie Stelmanis, the star of Toronto band Austra. Stelmanis openly self-identifies as queer, so we’re especially excited to see her in Flare because visibility of LGBTQ2S folks is important.

4. On the next page, Flare does a short piece called “Must Sea” by Sara Angel on Ellen Gallagher, a Rotterdam-based artist. More often than not, female artists don’t get their due, so it’s really exciting to see a female artist, and a woman of colour no less, in the pages of one of Canada’s most popular magazines. Gallagher’s art majorly appeals to our politics, as Angel notes,

Race is a dominant theme in both [of Gallagher’s current] shows, and it’s fascinating to watch the overt identity politics that figure into her iconic work becoming subsumed and complicated in less-often-seen nature-focused explorations. Early in her career, Gallagher appropriated vintage advertisements for African-American products- wigs, hair-straightening aids and skin-lightening creams that promise you will be “made for kisses”– which she deftly transformed with a scalpel, excising lips and eyes to haunting effect.

 

5. Flare features an article on “NYC’s hottest drag queen”, Ladyfag, who is from Toronto. The article, by Cintra Wilson, is called “Party Girl.” As mentioned in note 3 above, writing about and including queer-identified voices in mainstream media is super-important, and while we’re glad to see Ladyfag representin’, we’re also really troubled by some of Wilson’s statements about transgendered and queer-identied folks which we feel ultimately take away from and serve to undermine the legitimacy of Ladyfag’s voice and presence in the article.

Wilson makes several sensationalist remarks about Ladyfag’s identity, noting she is, “actually a woman,” and at when introducing Ladyfag at the very beginning of the article notes that she , “tells me [Wilson] in a distinctly feminine voice-and this is the first time it occurs to me that the phenomenon known as Ladyfag is biologically female.” These statements are SUPER problematic, as people who are of the LGBTQ2S communities very frequently are interrogated about their identities, sexual preferences, etc, and statements like Wilson’s only add to this problem.

Unfortunately, things get worse. Also in Wilson’s article she states that,

After all, ever since gender nuances exploded into a full Pantone spectrum-as The New Yorker reported earlier this year, a wild number of teens are having sex reassignment surgery, while the female artist Casey Legler was recently signed to Ford as as male model-one never really knows.

 

Wow, where do we even start with this highly offensive statement? Our biggest issue is with Wilson saying that a “wild” number of teens are having sex-affirming surgeries. Wild? Wild? Sex-affirming surgeries are not “wild” and impulsive like this sentence suggests–they are very carefully and conscientiously carried-out surgeries that a lot of trans-identified people struggle to have ‘approved’ by oftentimes transphobic medical institutions, insurance companies, medical practitioners, etc.  Her comments are especially ridiculous when you consider all the relatively conscientious and nuanced coverage of androgynous model Andrej Pejić that have been making headlines this past year. So yea, Wilson, NOT wild, not a party, etc.

6. The last awesome thing about the Flare July issue is Sheila Heti’s piece on Alanais Obomsawin. Obomsawin, who is of Abenaki descent,  is a filmmaker and sits on the National Film Board of Canada. She’s 80 years old, and her compelling, thought-provoking comments in her article about racism in Canada and her incredibly important experiences as a filmmaker make this piece an absolute must-read.

 

Gloss over This: Shay Mitchell

shay-mitchell-homepape-001“When I was in high school [in Vancouver], I was so uncomfortable with myself,” she says, brushing her long, thick hair out of her face. “All my friends were blond and blue-eyed. My mom is Filipino-but my friends’ nannies were Filipino.” So she dyed her hair blond and armed herself with watercolour-hued contact lenses in blue, green and grey. But getting scouted to model in Bangkok and Hong Kong at age 18 changed the way she felt about her exotic features. “I was getting cast because I didn’t look like anyone else,” she says now, with a laugh.

-Shay Mitchell to Kathtryn Hudson in “Darling Buds of Shay” in Elle Canada July 2013

 

We’re actually very excited and pleasantly surprised by Elle Canada’s choice of Shay Mitchell for their July cover star for a few reasons:

1. She’s Canadian!

2. She’s mixed-race! Yay for women of colour(s) on major magazine covers!

3. Do we detect a hint of feminism? According to her interview, she has been active with the Somaly Mam Foundation, a non-profit group that fights sex trafficking. She stated in her interview, reflecting on her travels in Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia that, “sexual exploitation was everywhere, and it really had an impact on me […] when I came back from working with the girls, it was hard for me to talk to people. When the TV came on and it was Real Housewives or whatever the hell, I wa sjust like ‘Shut it off'”.

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