Vogue Fashion Director in Brazil Quits Over Photos That Evoke Slavery Era
RIO DE JANEIRO — The fashion director of Vogue magazine’s Brazil edition has resigned following an outcry over photographs from her 50th birthday that critics saw as an allusion to race relations during the colonial era, when Brazil relied heavily on slave labor.
The executive, Donata Meirelles, who is white, posted the photographs on her Instagram account, where she appears smiling broadly sitting on a ornate chair flanked by two black women wearing elaborate white dresses.
Many Brazilians saw the images, taken in the predominantly-black state of Bahia, as a throwback to Brazil’s colonial era, when light-skinned elites enslaved millions of black people of African descent. The chair in which Ms. Meirelles was photographed resembles a type of chair slave masters used in those times.
Ms. Meirelles, who stepped down on Wednesday, appeared to allude to the event with regret in a statement posted on her Instagram account in which she said she wanted to be an agent of change for a “transformation that is necessary.”
Vogue’s Brazil edition addressed the matter directly in its own message: “Regarding the manifestations regarding Donata Meirelles’ 50th birthday party, Vogue Brasil regrets profoundly what happened and hopes the debate generated serves as a source of learning.”
Among those who expressed anger over the photos was the singer Elza Soares, who is black. In a statement on Instagram, she wrote about “wounds that have not healed.” She added: “think how much you can hurt your neighbor by choosing a theme to ‘adorn’ a happy moment in your life.”
Roughly half of Brazil’s 208 million citizens identify as black or of mixed racial background. Brazil abolished slavery in 1888, becoming among the last countries in the Americas to do so.
Ms. Meirelles signaled that the uproar had taken an emotional toll. On Thursday night, she posted a photo montage on Instagram featuring two women sitting on a massive Prozac pill.
“Good night,” she wrote.