OLUCHI’S AURA: I would imagine that, like any one who has achieved the level of success that he has, Steven Meisel has a bit of an ego. His work usually references pop culture and mass media brilliantly but never admit-tingly surrenders to the stylings of his predecessors. This stirring image of Oluchi Onweagba must be considered an exception though. The reference to Irving Penn’s classic, stripped-back studio portraits is undeniable. Although nothing can beat the original, Meisel’s tribute to an American great is breathtakingly beautiful in its minimalism. Wearing a Yohji Yamamato dress and simple slippers, styled by Brana Wolf, the Nigerian beauty exudes a regal sense of stoicism that comes naturally. The grainy studio backdrop only heightens the appeal of the dignified tribute.
The picture also leads me to think about the most commonplace issue in fashion at the moment. I wonder again and again and again why fashion people find it so hard to let black models fall into imagery like this, let alone editorial at all. When the result could be as awe-inspiring as this, why is there even a shadow of a doubt that it should be Chanel, Jourdan or Jasmine standing in front of Meisel’s lens more often than Vanessa, Meghan or Jamie? I say that because its clear that this image’s brilliance owes a lot to Oluchi’s physical attributes. One of a kind is what this image is, but if any of the major lensmen or women want to get close to achieving something of this standard, then they need to reevaluate their perceptions on beauty.