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Vogue, Keira Knightley donate food & Louis Vuitton to African elephant’s rehab

May 24th, 2007 Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, Fashion, General, Travel

Keira Knightley gives baby elephant Louis Vuitton fro VogueThe concept for the June 2007 Vogue magazine cover story is a diary of British actress Keira Knightley’s “vacation in Africa” – more specifically Kenya. While the idea was probably someone’s eureka moment for an interesting feature, the resulting shoot and story is another re-hashing of Out of Africa. The fashion blogosphere has taken issue with one image in particular where the actress is photographed feeding a baby elephant which has been draped with a leather Louis Vuitton blanket.

After lunch at the Giraffe Manor, a hotel near Nairobi where giraffes roam the grounds, Keira donned a chic gray Bottega Veneta frock to visit the baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Mbagathi, the only successful project in the world at rehabilitating orphaned elephants into the wild. Her diary entry for that day reads, “Today everyone tried to catch the baby elephants so we could put Louis Vuitton blankets on their backs. I’ve never seen anything more brilliantly stupid. I hope Louis Vuitton like it; they should definitely give the elephant a modeling contract.” – via Style.com

The fashion spread also includes a photo of the actress “roughing it” with some Maasai herdsmen- how original -, and some other shots of Ms. Knightley living out her rugged Africa dreams (circa 1910). I know Vogue is not the most progressive magazine, however you’d think that with all the resources they have the editors can find a creative way to tie in the Africa theme. They could have at least hired a photographer like Andrew Dosunmu, Marc Baptiste, or Stanley Lumax to lend their unique talent to the idea. But it just goes to prove how the perspective of Africa in popular culture is so limited. We can say that the editors at Vogue are at fault but, the true failure of the whole feature is with the Africans involved in the shoot who perhaps felt they had no choice but to offer their resources up to strengthen an image of Africa which ultimately would limit their ability to grow out of the early 1900′s image of the continent. This is why I place so much weight on the shoulders of those of us who live and work abroad to act as ambassadors and communicate our experiences constantly. One might say that the Vogue spread is just poor execution, however, the underlying theme is the real problem. The campaign to re-brand Africa has to take place both on the continent and abroad in order for it to be a success. It’s a tough job but the alternative is worse.

more images via imnotobsessed
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  • Orfa

    Good points. Seems folks can’t get away from the whole OOA/Karen/1910-era and romanticism of The Continent.

    There is so much collective power in Africa and enough savvy businesspeople, thinkers, writers and others to come together and constantly campaign and bring awareness to issues, and attempt to harness the power within “Brand” Africa, Africa’s image and Africa’s people. Your site is an excellent example of that. Bookmarked!

  • Kelsey

    SHOCKING. Completely outraged at Kiera Knightly for putting her face on the cover of such a pretentiously ignorant campaign for Louis Vuitton, Vogue, and Mark Jacobs, I am dumbfounded at the materialism and self-involvment that helping fellow human beings has turned into. A magazine photoshoot intended to praise the “nobility” of Brand Name Westernization and the “savagery” of Africa, hides the True who’s who of nobility and savagery!!

  • http://www.annansi.com Kofi

    Orfa,
    Thanks for the compliment.

    Kelsey,
    It’s certainly disheartening to see relationship between the west and Africa portrayed in such a way.

  • http://keira-krazy.conr Harriet

    I dont see whats so bad about it, i mean there showing how bad afica’s poverty is and getting it across all the thick snobs who read vouge and have the money to donate. Although i understand your views i must disagree in saying i think keira didnt a really good job going out there, it shows she does care and wants to help.

  • anna

    wow harriet, you may want to proof read a little before you post a comment next time. in you last line you say, “i must disagree in saying i think keira DIDNT a really good…” a freudian slip maybe? its time we start leaving the overly romanticised notion of afria and afriacans in the past. the spread in vogue was way to heart of darkness for my taste. i wonder what achebe would have to say?!

  • veronique

    Give mE a break. Its a photo spread in Vogue. RELAX! do you guys realize youre making a big deal about a LOUIS VUITTON BLANKET ON AN ELEPHANT. THAT IS THE DUMBEST THING IVE EVER HEARD. WHO CARES? You need to get a life, or mabey take up knitting…

  • http://www.sistahcraft.typepad.com sahara

    Take up knitting? Veronica, give ME a break.

    Getting a life, means having a conversation about the perception of us in Africa and the Diaspora, due to the fantastical display of a nonsensical shoot, not a blanket on an elephant.

    Who cares? All of us who have to continue to put up with the ridiculous questions and comments about who we are, because spreads like these are some of the few images (besides poverty) that many Americans see of Africa. And while fashion may be a fantasy, the ignorance I deal with is not.

    Until people are educated and emotionally mature enough to know the difference between what is fantasy and what is reality, I CARE.

    And MAYBE you could use a typing course.

  • http://www.santaferanch.com/category/santafe.brands.american_west/ american west purses

    if knightley is black, she looks even more malnourished than those folks!

  • timothylepereslaur

    Thanks for the fashion spread,now more people in the bush have turned to new regalia.

  • Pingback: because an elephant never forgets | {wanderlust}

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