Italian Vogue's editor, Franca Sozzani, said her decision was influenced by the New York group, as well as by Barack Obama's success in the US presidential primaries.
Meisel, who worked with Madonna on her controversial coffee-table book, Sex, brought several of the black fashion world's big names aboard for the issue. He photographed Naomi Campbell, Iman, Tyra Banks, Liya Kebede, Jourdan Dunn, Alek Wek and Pat Cleveland, among others.
"I thought, it's ridiculous, this discrimination. It's so crazy to live in such a narrow, narrow place. Age, weight, sexuality, race - every kind of prejudice," he told the New York Times. He blamed designers, magazine editors and advertisers for the decline in the numbers of black women in fashion shows. "I have asked my advertising clients so many times, 'Can we use a black girl?' They say no."
Among the black models on his roster was the full-figured Toccara Jones. Meisel argued that weight was also an issue in the fashion world.
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This magazine exists to inspire women. How do fashion editors get inspired by watching the same procession of anonymous, blandly pretty, very young, very skinny, washed-out blondes with their hair scraped back in show after show? The glamazon supermodels of the late eighties and early nineties (Linda, Christy, Cindy, Naomi, Claudia) all looked equal but different as they thundered down the runway. Like the Spice Girls, each had an individual personality, a different physicality. So did the late-nineties wave of sexy Brazilian girls (who come in all colors, from milk to brown). The current wave of Eastern Europeans all look pretty much alike, which is odd for a trade that thrives on appealing to a woman's personal style. And all are, obviously, white. Sarah Doukas, founder of Storm model agency in London, remarks, "It's a naughty thing to say, because I've got some beautiful Eastern European girls, but to be honest, when I go in cars with them in Paris, I do get snow-blinded."