Vogue Italia has apologized for an online feature about gold hoop earrings that the magazine referred to as “slave earrings,” setting off a firestorm of angry public opinion after the news spread on Twitter and was featured on Jezebel.com.
“We apologise for the inconvenience. It is a matter of really bad translation from Italian into English,” the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Franca Sozzani, said in a statement obtained by the Guardian. “The Italian word, which defines those kind of earrings, should instead be translated into ‘ethnical style earrings.’ Again, we are sorry about this mistake which we have just amended in the website.”
Both the title and description of the jewelry slideshow have been changed. The feature has been renamed “ethnic earrings.” But under the “Tags” section, the word “slave” still appears.
The description, as provided by Jezebel, formerly read, “If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern Unites States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom.” The words “slave trade” have been replaced with “late 18th century.”
However, the Italian version of the description raises questions about Sozzani’s “translation” issue claim. In Italian, the style of the earring is described as “schiave o creole.” “Schiave” translates to slave in English.
Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time something called a “slave earring” has appeared in the magazine. Twitter user @thatwritingchic points to a 1946 ad in Vogue for “Slave Earrings.”