Basin Jamet The Crystal Tearoom Tuning into Josephine River of Beauty and Youth River of Beauty and Youth
Dear Elle France… since you didn’t do your homework…let me help you out.

Dear Elle France… since you didn’t do your homework…let me help you out.

posted on Saturday January 28, 2012 | in Tuning in to Josephine | 39 Comments

” We are not one monolithic group to be written about like zoo animals.”

-Claire of fashion bomb daily.

It couldn’t have been said better.

The Elle France article made me think of Chimamanda Adichie’s speech for Ted Talks titled, “A single story.” It describes the danger of telling a single story of a people, which I think may just happen for black people more than any other race. The Elle France article highlights how narrow minded fashion magazines can be. I can write a never ending list of Black Style Icons from the last 100 years. Martin Luther King, Zora Neale Hurston, Donayale Luna and Hailee Selassie come to mind. The mistake this writer made, which makes her look incredibly ignorant is to stereotype a whole race using notions that are completely baseless. It just makes her and her editors at Elle look stupid, un-intelligent and unsophisticated. Since she lacked knowledge to write this article and refused to do any sort of research I’ve taken it upon myself to help her.

For more articulate readings on black style and culture, take a look here , there and here.

Syney Poitier and Diahann Carroll

Josephine Baker and Frida Khalo

A 1950's New York woman

The Supremes in Paris

Josephine Baker gets a pedicure

Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge

Eartha Kitt and Cary Grant

Grace Jones attends a fashion show

Jimi Hendrix so modern could have inspired Raf Simons' last menswear collection.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Whitney Houston & Clive Davis

Billy Holiday cooks at home

Dr.Martin Luther King


A lot of the images are from Vintage Black Glamour.

« | »


  1. Hugh C. Findletar (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    I just LoVe the honest energy,, and beauty you share in what you do Miss. Shala Monroque!!!

  2. Angel (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    I was deeply offended by the Elle France piece. The ignorance of it was astounding! A sincere thank you for this post! You’re an inspiration!

  3. Lululabell (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Man oh man, I am so glad to see this post. Perfect rebuttal.

  4. oroma (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Enough said.
    Black is in the air and in the industry’s desire to have in part in it, we’ll forced to deal with writers amongst many others who have absolutely no interest in black culture or style merely looking to be a part of the now and the in much like they do with new models.

  5. Feral (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Beautiful post. Thank you. I hope you sent the link to the editors of French Elle–what a bunch of idiots!
    Take care and please keep writing and posting.

  6. leigh odimah (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Love your choice of images of African diasporan chic at its chicest, what a lovely come back .. ♥

  7. ms (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Wonderful post!

  8. Rosemary (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    I wasn’t aware of that article. Thank you. Why is it that we always have to … (sigh) never mind. Thank you for the visual history lesson.

  9. Ej (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    This is the agency that makes us love your work and of course you. A brilliant curation of African diasporan style that speaks loud and clear. Thank you.

  10. […] Et pour finir le post de Shala Monroque, dont j’aime beaucoup la réponse faite au Magazine Elle : « Dear ELLE France… Since you didn’t do your homework… let me help you out. » […]

  11. Marjon (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Love the imagery here: it’s like a family photo album. Intimate, thoughtful, and withstanding time, trends. Eternal.

  12. ETHABHAE (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    You need to be the next editor of Vogue. Succeed the beast, won’t you pretty brown girl in a blue dress. Please.

  13. Karin (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Beautiful post. So many people to admire and show to the new generations.www.stylepicture.blogspot.com

  14. Fabiola (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    You’re a pure gem. This post is perfection. I’m proud of you taking a stance especially since you’re highly regarded in the fashion industry. This is a breath of fresh air and I wish you a continued success.

  15. tasja (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Peace. Peace.

  16. Mick March (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    great piece of communication for bright minds.
    Hope to see you soon at Taiwana Tribe / St. Barth

  17. ManzelleSofi (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Hi Everyone,

    I’m a Black young French Woman who as many part of Black women get upset by the Elle’s article! thanks for post, very insightful and documented!
    But I would like to underline that here most of black’s prejudjices and racist comments come from ignorance and the people themselves aren’t aware they’re using stereotypes!

    the Elle journalist and Editor took two days to write apologies on the website, a bit too late for us…

  18. Athena (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012


    In France there is what we call, literally speaking, the duty of memory. Thank you for reminding us what Elle seems to have forgotten a long time ago. Athena

  19. malika (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    good homework !

    the photo, it’s looking you little girl with yellow dress and on ******* flowers !

  20. Alice (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    I absolutely loved this post. Thank you for showcasing what we have woked hard for and do not get credit for. The visuals alone are a wonderful teaching tool. Merci!

  21. Safs (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    The mosaic of images is a striking and sufficient enough rebuttal…one sometimes doesn’t necessarily require the use of words to exude a solid argument! Excellent Shala and Thank you!

  22. glowingcolours (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    You apply such grace in your writing, that makes me stare at each and every word that is in this article.
    Thanks for thi one.

  23. Marian (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Miss Shala my darling,
    You could not have said it better.
    I salute you.
    Thank you for saying what desperately needed to be said.
    Thank you.
    Shine on.

  24. Marian (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    p.s the images chosen above are as powerful an answer in themselves!
    Incredibly imagery, incredible reminder of talent.
    Glam kisses,

  25. Fumi Desalu-Vold (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Sensational article and music to my ears. I read it aloud to a room full of people, smiling.

  26. lialia (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Merci pour ce somptueux post!!!

  27. Nichole (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Thank you SO much for this Shala. As a young African American woman growing up in the United States I sometimes don’t do my research. I have very few pictures of my mother and father when they were young and have little knowledge of my family history. Articles like this inspire me to reach out, to learn. Most of all it creates a light inside of me. I am proud to be who I am.

  28. nadia (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    I hope all the naysayers and haters who commented on your selection for the Cover of Town and Country Magazine eat their words. You have earned all of your accolades, style and sophisitaction mixed with intellect, tenacity and real talent. A potent combination. Show them, small island girl. Elle can certanly use some of your insite.

  29. sthandiwe (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Im South African,so articles like the Elle French boil me up on another level,and its when we keep quiet and not say anything about who we are as a people that others will define us!Thank you Ms Shala!Lets not keep quiet!

    Sthandiwe Kgoroge

  30. Sinead (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Well done! Thank you so much for posting this.

  31. malika (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Billy holliday cooking, …(for the dog might be?)
    Conviction of M. Luther King,

    Elegance of JM Basquiat,
    Hand and eyes of JM Basquiat,

    Pants of JBaker,
    Beauty and smile of the child unknown with pot water on her back.

    Fantastic retro fashion in 50/60th ! so interesting as well for music, painting… political !

  32. judy (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    great photos

  33. Samantha (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Thank you for this Shala! I am a professor of African Diaspora art history and visual culture, and I have used Chimamanda Adichie’s “A Single Story” a number of times in different classes to begin a dialogue about how black people have been and are represented in popular culture. That Elle magazine article was highly offensive and, unfortunately, such representations of black women will continue. We must all do our part to counter this negativity.

    I am from Trinidad and it is great to see a fellow Caribbean woman doing the region proud! Represent!!! :)

  34. Stacy H (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    Fortunately I do not read Elle. I do, however, read Vogue Paris, Vogue Italia, and British Vogue quite regularly, and would cringe if the same treatment of a group of people was published, in this era, of the same nature. I am a Fellow in Anthropology and a Development consultant in Africa, the Caribbean and South America, where I am constantly exposed to various degrees of representations of black people and indigenous groups from the Amazon. As I deal with nationalism, identity and the state, it is true that such representations are purported in popular culture as well as in all parts of society. Unfortunately, there are elements of these poor characterisations of groups of people in the developed world. It’s now up to us to continue progressing.

    I am from Guyana, where representations and stereotypes are prevalant and a part of the cultural transformations. Let’s see how Elle France will transform in the future.

  35. Cheryl Lynn (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    This was the most telling and inspiring rebuttal to a completely and utterly ignorant article that I’ve ever seen. Your pertinent words could not have been followed by a better cache of photos! Bravo and thank you, Shala!

  36. Felicia F (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    I enjoyed your blog and especially this post. I admire your style and “swagger”. You are an inspiration for me to be an individual and not conform to what others think I should be. Thanks for being a wonderful representitive of a real black woman.

  37. Huda (Reply) on Saturday 28, 2012

    beautifully written and an educational piece not just for ignorance that permeates mainstream fashion magazines, but for our youth who have no clue about the richness and diversity of their own history beyond the cheap imitation of present hiphop culture.

  38. […] courtesy of shalasrabbithole.com.  If you haven’t read this great post, do! Great […]

  39. […] Florals and florals. via Shala’s Rabbit Hole […]

Leave a Response



The Meaning of Shala
The Looking Glass

Subscribe to Blog

For general questions please contact: 

For collaborations please contact: 




Share with love but don't
forget to credit.
Site design by Thupamodel.