The French Renaissance Reimagined

Alexander-Julian Gibbson recreated historical, relentlessly white images with Black faces.

Last weekend, the US made history by electing the first Black Vice President (who also happens to be the first women Vice President, and the first Indian at that). If you look at the steady progression of white male faces that preceded that of Kamala Harris, the absolute lack of racial diversity in our country’s highest political offices remains shocking to many.

In a new story for VMAN, Stylist and Creative Director Alexander-Julian Gibbson wanted to reimagine another history, that of the French Renaissance, by recreating imagery from the era but with Black men as opposed to white.

“This story is a repositioning of Black bodies within the historically French colonial context through the exploration of the season’s soft, ornate, and frill-filled take on masculinity,” Gibbson says. “We saw this vintage French aesthetic on the FW2020 runways, and with the rise in the surge of Black models, it was inevitable to see the aesthetic on brown faces that we haven’t historically seen it on before. When you think of French Renaissance artwork, it’s devoid of Black faces, but Black culture and French culture are not mutually exclusive. We created images inspired by renaissance-age French portraiture through the Black lens with some of the season’s finest garbs to match.”

Check out the images, below.

Full Look: Lanvin
Headpiece: Eric Javits
Full look: Loewe
Gloves and Scarf: Vintage
Suit and shirt: Ami
Gloves: Mark Kenly Domino Tan
Hat: Eric Javits
Shoes: Fendi
Shirt: Vintage
Pants: Gioirgio Armani
Vest: Mark Kenly Domino Tan
Shoes: Bode
Full look: Celine
Cape: Gucci
Shirt: Prada
Pants: Prada
Gloves: Gucci
Shoes: Marni
Poncho: Moncler 4 Simone Rocha
Shirt: Vintage
Cape: Kid Super
Pants: Acne
Jacket: Bode
Shirt: Bode
Shorts: Gucci
Tights: Calzedonia
Shoes: Dries Van Noten
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