The style director for Vogue Brazil has resigned after pictures of an apparently slavery-themed birthday party became public.
Donata Meirelles stepped down after pictures from her 50th birthday party and dinner were heavily criticized for its colonial references to slavery. The picture in question, which has since been deleted, was posted on Instagram showing Meirelles at her party in northeast Brazil sitting on a chair flanked by black women.
The clothes looked like uniforms worn by slaves and the chair looked similar to wicker chairs used by slave masters.
Television host Rita Batista posted a similar picture on Instagram and explained the historical context. She contrasted the picture from the party next to an image of two 19th-century slaves flanking their owner, with a Portuguese caption explaining how in those days “the slave herself was a luxury object to be shown publicly.”
In a statement to CNN, Condé Nast, the parent company of Vogue Brazil, confirmed that Meirelles had resigned. Further, her position as style director “will be extinguished, since it has been designed specifically to her.”
“Condé Nast International is aware of the hurt and dismay caused by images of the private birthday party of Donata Meirelles, Style Director of Vogue Brazil,” the statement said. “Vogue Brazil is going to set up a working group of scholars and activists that will help the team to more deeply understand the history of slavery and the lasting pain it has left behind,” they added. “As a company, we have zero tolerance for racism and images evoking racism. Condé Nast International is a force for positive societal change and stands for diversity and inclusiveness.”
Meirelles apologized amid the outcry, writing on Instagram claiming that “it wasn’t a theme party, but if it looked otherwise, I’m sorry.”