Geisha, samurai, manga. Those are the three themes that Peruvian photographer Mario Testino used in his recent photoshoot with Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr for the special 15th anniversary November issue of Vogue Japan. While Kerr is no stranger to Japanese television commercials (need laundry detergent, anyone?), her recent photos have been stirring up controversy due to the ‘vaguely ethnic-looking style’ of the fashion used in the shoot.
Take a look at the photos and then decide for yourself what’s going on here–is it cultural appropriation, or cultural appreciation?
About a week ago, the 31-year-old Australian beauty uploaded three photos from her photoshoot for Vogue Japan to her Instagram account. The photos were taken by Peruvian photographer Mario Testino, who is best known for his work on a 1997 photoshoot of Princess Diana of Wales, as part of a special spread to celebrate the magazine’s 15th anniversary. In the accompanying interview, Kerr also talks about the reasons for her success as a model and a number of beauty secrets.
Despite her unmistakable good looks and popularity in Japan, some net users were upset by the apparent cultural appropriation taking place in the photos. Others were angered by the fact that the magazine didn’t choose a Japanese model to pose for the 15th anniversary issue of its Japanese-language version, instead electing to dress a foreigner up in a rather strange series of ‘Japan-inspired’ outfits.
Let’s take a look at the three photos that Kerr posted to her Instagram account:
▼Channeling her inner samurai?
▼There are rumors that this get-up was inspired by none other than virtual Japanese pop idol Hatsune Miku.
▼Here’s an additional image from Vogue Japan‘s official website:
According to Mario Testino,
“I wanted to represent ancient and modern Japan with these three characters. Japan has geisha and samurai, as well as manga, and I hoped to express these themes through Miranda to the Japanese people.”
Personally, the whole situation reminds me of the backlash after Katy Perry’s ‘garbled Chinese-Japanese fusion geisha-style’ performance (for lack of a better term) at the American Music Awards last year…
Vogue Japan is one of the pricier (and decidedly heavier) fashion magazines on the market. It goes on sale on the 27th of every month with a cover price of 700 yen (US$6.41) per issue. If you’re a Miranda Kerr fan and don’t care about the current controversy, be sure to pick up your issue on magazine stands or through the internet before it’s too late!