Was This Designer Wrong For Having White Models Walk To “Formation” At Australia Fashion Week?

May 21, 2016  |  

At this point, the ongoing conversation regarding the lack of diversity in the fashion world has unfortunately become pretty much commonplace. And the discussion just hit yet another fever pitch when the finale of Australian fashion brand Misha’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia show went viral.

So, what could be so cringe-worthy, you ask? The uproar came when IMG modeling agency posted a video of the shows finale, in which the 100% white model lineup, fronted by Bella Hadid, strutted down the runway to Beyonce’s “Formation” — not a single black or brown soul in sight. Of course with “Formation” being such a heralded song that narrated the undeniable magic a black woman possesses, people didn’t take too kindly to the fact that the song’s message wasn’t relayed in the color of models. But instead of doing a hostile-like takeover and commenting on IMG’s Instagram account with an overwhelming amount of bee and lemon emojis, an out-pour of serious concern followed.

“This song is an ode to powerful black women around the world, so where are the black women??” asked one user.

“This is like playing ‘Fight the Power’ at a Donald Trump rally,” someone added.

“No one would care if it were some other Beyonce song. But a song that is specifically celebrating black culture and features was a shady and strange choice. A song that is proudly celebrating afros, broad noses, Creole and Black Southern heritage… with all white models? That is bogus,” another chimed in.

“Disgusted. I’m not black but I know ‘Formation’ is a black anthem celebrating Southern American black culture. It’s not for non-black people to use and certainly not in a walk featuring no black models at all,” rounded out the comments.

While all the comments hit the nail on the head, an incident as such isn’t too far fetched. According to the Fashion Spot, the models who walked the fall 2016 runways(including New York, London, Milan, and Paris) were 75.25% white — a minor improvement from the previous season, when they were 77.6% white.

Personally, I, too, was disgusted by the footage. I won’t say that “Formation” is a song reserved for blacks only, but put some respect on our name! The song itself is fiery, upbeat, and surely will make anyone feel the spirit and begin to move, but the fact that not one single model of color owned the catwalk was sickening. Was Naomi booked? What about Joan Smalls? Jourdan Dunn? Alek Wek? Chanel Iman? Jessica White? Leomie Anderson? Liya Kebede? Sessilee Lopez? Selita Ebanks? Ajak Deng? Ubah Hassan? Georgie Badiel? Arlenis Sosa? I could literally continue but you get the point. If they paid Ms. Hadid $400,000 just move her two feet to “Formation,” why not hire one of the aforementioned?

This topic surely goes beyond “Formation,” with the lack of diversity at its core, but the longstanding problem of sensitivity from designers has yet to be handled.

What are your thoughts on this situation?

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