PARIS - The French online edition of Elle magazine is facing accusations of bad taste, if not outright racism, after a blog post cited Michele Obama's fashion flair as having finally helped move black style from "street" to "chic."
French blogger Nathalie Dolvios piece, entitled Black Fashion Power, was clearly attempting to be complimentary toward both the Obamas and American black fashion generally, but stumbled with patronizing language and out-of-date information, including the declaration that a "black-geoisie" was only now emerging.
The article, which has since been removed from French Elles website, implied that President Obama and his wife had given the American black community a chic alternative to the streetwear codes it has long been used to.
The piece has led a group of French celebrities to write an open letter published in the Le Monde daily, which sarcastically urged Elle journalists to get out more and see that "black fashion" was not about sporting hoodies and bling-bling jewelry.
The signatories included some of Frances most famous black stars of cinema and fashion, like model Noémie Lenoir, as well as music and journalism celebrities --among them Audrey Pulvar, a television commentator who led the charge against Elles "white-geoisie" views.
Nathalie Dolivo, the author, and Valerie Toranian, her editor, expressed regrets -- saying the article was full of good intentions that might have been badly expressed. Still, the damage is largely done and the spotlight has now been turned to the legendary women's magazine. Some, for example, are asking why the magazine, which was founded nearly 70 years ago, has only had a handful of black women on the cover?
Read more from Le Monde in French
*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations
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