Is British Vogue Afraid Of Lesbians?


The Danish model Freja Beha Erichsen is having quite the summer. Her androgynous good looks have graced the covers of French, Italian, and British Vogue in quick succession, Karl Lagerfeld loves her, and her Balenciaga campaign just came out.

Erichsen is almost unspeakably cool. So it was with eagerness that we sat down to read her profile in this month’s British Vogue — especially after the magazine did a surprisingly good job writing about Lara Stone’s life last November. Vogue delved into Stone’s complicated relationship with her profession. The Dutch model was surprisingly frank about her alcohol abuse, past relationships, work history, family background, and what it’s like being the woman with 35″ hips whom the industry considers “curvy.” The story, reported during London Fashion Week in September, also revealed Stone’s then-nascent relationship with the man who recently became her husband, comedian David Walliams.

Maybe Erichsen — or her management — gave Vogue strict parameters for the interview, or set other restrictions on the reporting. Maybe Sarah Harris, who wrote Erichsen’s profile, just isn’t the writer that Vassi Chamberlain, who profiled Stone, is. But whatever happened, British Vogue served up what is possibly the most boring, vapid, inane 1200-word celebrity profile of the year. And that’s saying something.

Allow me to quote:

…Today, Freja is wearing skinny black Acne jeans, gauzy vests by Joseph and Rick Owens (one of each, layered), Rag & Bone boots, and a Balenciaga mouse-brown leather jacket…Freja is thin, as straight-up-and-down as anyone can be…has an addiction to Café Gitane’s avocado on toast…

There followed a long paragraph about her tattoos, of which she has 16. Later, we learn that Erichsen likes this thing called music, doesn’t drink but smokes, and is “defensive about her privacy.” It’s an article that could be submitted to win Ladymag Editorial Cliché Bingo: the endless discussion of the subject’s looks and her style, the series of fashion brand names that resounds like a bass line through the piece, the one-line quotes from industry sources, the report from the front lines of the photo shoot. The photographer and Vogue‘s own fashion director are interviewed, and discuss Erichsen’s “innate sense of style.” Erichsen calls Lagerfeld “inspiring.” She intends to take a road trip this summer — with friends.

The only part that was even slightly interesting or funny was when Harris asks what Erichsen plans to do with her earnings:

‘I blew it all on strippers and cars,’ she deadpans.

The thing about Freja Beha Erichsen is that she is an extremely successful model — lithe and active in front of the camera, emotive, invested, interesting to look at — and Vogue‘s assertion of this fact, though extremely tedious in its expression, isn’t wrong. But there’s an elephant in the room: in this thing that is supposed to provide some kind of insight into the life of Freja Beha Erichsen, her behavior, psychology, past, present, dreams, goals, motivations, and concerns, what makes her tick, there is absolutely no mention made of the most obvious part of her personality and her life, which is her sexuality.

What Vogue can’t or won’t say, but what is totally obvious to anyone actually interested in this woman and her life, is that Freja Beha Erichsen is an extremely successful model and she dates women. She is a PJ Harvey-listening, tattoo-having, tomboy-dressing, public-photographs-with-her-girlfriends-allowing, Danish supermodel lesbian. Lesbian. Lesbian. Why is that word so hard to say, Vogue? If you Google her, one of the first things that comes up is a big picture of her kissing a chick, for God’s sake.

Erichsen has been romantically linked to Irina Lazareanu and was Catherine McNeil’s girlfriend. And her sexuality is hardly a secret. When so-French-you-don’t-even-get-how-edgy-it-is Purple magazine ran a nude editorial with Freja in February, it called her “living proof that you can be one of the most important models in current fashion without having to hide your body or your sexuality.” And in a 2007 interview for V magazine with makeup artist James Kaliardos — who is also gay — Freja and Kaliardos both started laughing when he referred to her as “straight.”

“I’m very straight…forward,” she joked.

The segment has unfortunately vanished from V‘s website, probably because it’s so old, but the point is Erichsen isn’t living in the closet.

So why is British Vogue trying to put her back in?

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