All Articles Tagged "black models"
Alek Wek has prowess. Not only has the Sudanese supermodel paved the way for black high fashion models everywhere, but she commands your attention in a photo. No matter what your opinion about her, you WILL remember that face.
Her career has spanned over almost a decade beginning in 1995 when she was discovered in London and has blown up to epic proportions ever since having walked for Victoria’s Secret, Chanel and Givenchy. She has also been on the cover of numerous magazines like ELLE, Vogue and Glamour magazine. And at her newly minted age of 37, she is still one of the most iconic models to ever do it.
Read more about Alek Wek’s birthday at StyleBlazer.com
Pushing for diversity in fashion is an ongoing job. And the push by the likes of Bethann Hardison and the Diversity Coalition is having some effect–but it’s slow going.
For yet another year Jezebel has compiled its seasonal New York Fashion Week racial diversity report, which looks at how many models of color were used by each designer.
According to the Jezebel report, the number of black models jumped from 8.08 percent last season to 9.75 percent. There was, however, a decrease in the number of Asian models from 8.1 percent to 7.67 percent this season, and Latina models dropped to 2.12 percent from 3.19 percent. The site notes that it’s difficult identifying the ethnic makeup of some models, so the calculations might be off slightly.
Designer Tocca didn’t use any models of color and Calvin Klein used fewer than last year. But African-American designer Tracy Reese, Zac Posen, Diane von Furstenberg and Ohne Titel have been consistent in their use of diverse models.
According to Jezebel, 78.68 percent of the outfits were worn by white models. When looking at the 148 Fall/Winter 2014 runway shows (excluding menswear), 4,621 looks were shown and only 985 were worn by models of color.
The Diversity Coalition says more work needs to be done. And former model Beverly Johnson agrees. “There are no models of color on the runway – OK, maybe there’s one,” Johnson said during the Macy’s annual Black History Month event in San Francisco on February 5.
“The lack of acknowledgement is disrespectful,” Johnson said, “particularly when we, as African Americans, participate in the bottom line of these designers and the entire industry.”According to Johnson, the fashion industry is actually less diverse now than in 1974, the year she became the first black model to grace the cover of Vogue.
Some designers complain they can’t find black models, that the modeling agencies aren’t sending out black models. But San Francisco’s JE Model agency owner Phillip Gums tells the Gate that the agencies simply reflect market demands. Gums, who happens to be an African-American model, admits it’s more difficult to get work for nonwhite models.
Although San Francisco modeling agencies do represent African American and Asian models, “we hate to just have them on our wall sitting there” without work, Gums says.
“Fashion reflects the society as a whole,” former Essence editor and fashion journalist Constance White points out. But she says, “Fashion can do better in terms of diversity at all different levels” including executive positions and the fashion designers themselves.
[h/t The Huffington Post]
Before there was Joan Smalls, Jourdan Dunn, Alek Wek and Jessica White, even Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, there was the outspoken and stunning Pat Evans. She chopped her hair off way before anyone else was doing it as a way to protest against the fashion industry and those in it who preferred straight silky hair over everything else, and for everyday women who felt their hair was everything. She probably didn’t realize how iconic her bald head would be. We celebrate her beauty and her boldness during Black History Month as another gorgeous sista more people need to be aware of and appreciate for the doors she opened.
The issue of racism in fashion continues to make headlines and now some 40 black models, most of them women, have staged a topless protest in Rio de Janeiro. They are protesting against the low presence of Afro-Brazilians on fashion catwalks, reports Agence France-Presse (via Raw Story).
The protest was staged to coincide with the signing of a deal between the Fashion Week organizers and the Rio ombudsman’s office setting a 10 percent quota for black models in fashion shows, according to the G1 news website.
“This agreement crowns a joint initiative that can open a space that does not yet exist,” said Moises Alcuna, a spokesman for Educafro, a civil rights group focusing on the labor and educational rights of blacks and indigenous people.
In Brazil, more than half of its 200 million people are of African descent, making it the world’s second largest black population after that of Nigeria. Yet Afro-Brazilians have been woefully underrepresented in the fashion world.
“If we are buying clothes, why can’t we parade in the (fashion) shows,” asked a 15-year-old model taking part in the protest. “Does that mean that only white women can sell and the rest of us can only buy?”
The government of Brazil has been working to increase diversity all round. After 13 years of debate, last year President Dilma Rousseff signed a law that reserves half of seats in federal universities to public school students, with priority given to Afro-Brazilians and indigenous people. And as we recently reported, President Rousseff is moving forward with an affirmative action program that will ensure that 20 percent of the nation’s government jobs will go to black Brazilians.
In the fashion industry, things were looking up for a while. Back in June 2009, the Sao Paulo Fashion Week– Latin America’s top fashion event — for the first time imposed quotas requiring at least 10 percent of the models to be black or indigenous. This didn’t last long.
In 2010, the 10 percent quota was removed, after a conservative prosecutor deemed it unconstitutional. The result was a drastic decrease in black models on the catwalk.
The fashion world is becoming more inclusive — kind of. There was a slight boost in models of color at this year’s New York Fashion Week, but more needs to be done to bring real diversity to the catwalk.
Jezebel has conducted a racial diversity report of the New York Fashion Week runways since 2008 and found that the number of white, black, Latino and Asian models cast in each show has been steadily declining. But things were better — slightly — for this year.
“Based on the 142 Spring/Summer 2014 runway shows (excluding presentations and lookbook) a total of 4637 looks were presented and, of those looks, approximately 80 percent were shown on white models,” reports The Huffington Post. The number is a slightly down from last season’s roughly 83 percent. The number of black models increased from six percent last season to 8.08 percent. Latina models walked 3.19 percent compared to last season’s two percent, but Asian models had a one percent drop from 9.1 percent to 8.1 percent.
Though a small boost, it is a start, say fashion insiders.
“I see this as a positive step,” fashion activist and leader of the Diversity Coalition, Bethann Hardison told The Huffington Post. “Whether the number moves a decimal or not, the fact that everyone is responding in such a positive way says a whole lot about the synergy of things and how things begin — and will continue to change.”
Among the designers who used models of color were Zac Posen, Rachel Comey and Diane von Furstenberg. Their shows boasted 30 percent or more models of colors. “Meanwhile Jill Stuart, Lacoste, Band of Outsiders and Victoria Beckham are just a few of the designers who showed between zero and three looks on non-white models,” reports the HuffPo.
Although there has been an improvement, the coalition isn’t backing down.
“But we’re not going to rest on our laurels. I know we’re going to have to keep our foot on the gas. As I’ve always said — activism requires you to be active,” said Hardison.
As New York Fashion Week is once again upon us, so is the question, “Where are the black models?” During Fashion Week in February, black models accounted for just 6 percent of the looks shown (down from 8.1 percent the previous season); 82.7 percent were worn by white models, reports The New York Times.
The Times wrote an exhaustive article about the ongoing efforts to diversify the fashion industry, with many black fashion insiders saying that online action may be the only way to encourage designers to include more minority models in their shows this September. Bethann Hardison, a former model and agent, told the Times that she is organizing a social media campaign to bring public scrutiny to specific designers (such as Dior, Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton and Chanel) who do not use black models. This is in hopes that consumers might think twice before buying items from designers who do not use black models. “I wonder if that would make them have second thoughts about buying the shoes, the accessories and the bags,” she said.
Iconic model Iman is calling for even more drastic action. “It feels to me like the times need a real hard line drawn like in the 1960s, by saying if you don’t use black models, then we boycott,” Iman told Huffington Post. “If you engage the social media, trust me, it will hurt them in their pockets. If you take it out there, they will feel the uproar.”
But because the general public doesn’t necessarily purchase high-end designer clothes, image activist and fashion insider Michaela Angela Davis says social media is the way to go to effect change, especially Black Twitter. Some credit African Americans who took to Twitter for putting the kibosh on the book that George Zimmerman juror B37 had planned on writing about the experience.
Do you think by exposing designers who don’t use black models will spur an industry change?
The old, ‘there’s not enough people of color’ in fashion feels like a dead horse that keeps getting beaten with each new headline announcing the obvious omission. But if that is the case, then every blackface ad campaign or editorial, or article that has to out-rightly triumph the appointment of a person of color to a lead editorial position—because the occasion is so few and far between—is the proverbial water that keeps giving the aforementioned horse life.
The NYTimes.com recently published an article, “Fashion’s Blind Spot,” analyzing fashion’s persistent, and even worsening, racist practices despite the dialogue on it that was opened 5 years ago, stemming from the lack of women of color on the high fashion runways. The NYT reports that black models only accounted for 6% of those cast during last season’s fashion week—a noticeable decline from the previous season’s 8.1%. It was also only yesterday that Fashionista.com reported on former US Vogue fixture (and bestie to Anna Wintour) André Leon Talley’s comments made about racism in the fashion industry in an upcoming issue of Vanity Fair.
Fashionista reports that according to Talley, “He admits to wondering why, with such a packed résumé, he’s never been the editor of a major magazine” and says, “People stereotype you. What person of color do you know who’s in a position like that, be it a man or a woman, unless it’s Essence magazine?” Well, it’s about 3 now? Keija Minor made the news last summer for becoming the first person of color to hold an editor-in-chief title for a Condé Nast publication. She was name the EIC of Brides magazine. Since then, Elaine Welteroth became the health and beauty director of Teen Vogue, while Shiona Turini was just named the new fashion market director of Cosmopolitan less than two weeks ago. Yea, that’s three; three in over a hundred years.
Read more at StyleBlazer.com
America’s Next Top Model finally let male models break into the show. We think it’s long past “about time,” And in honor of Tyra’s groundbreaking move, we have a list of some of the hottest black male models working today.
Shermon Braithwaite is from Brooklyn, NY, and attends Medgar Evers College when he’s not lighting up the runway. And get this: back in high school, Shermon considered himself “black, short and ugly”. We wholeheartedly disagree.
The lack of diversity in the fashion industry seems to be a never-ending conversation, as it appears that Black models are always being slapped in the face by casting directors and designers who make it obvious that they have a specific “Black girl quota,” which they refuse to exceed. Earlier this week, model Chanel Iman told The Sunday Times that she was no stranger to racism in the fashion world.
“A few times I got excused by designers who told me, ‘We already found one Black girl. We don’t need you anymore.’ I felt very discouraged. When someone tells you, ‘We don’t want you because we already have one of your kind,’ it’s really sad,” she regretfully revealed.
It appears that instances such as this one have caused young, up and coming models of color to want to disassociate themselves with their ethnicity, just so that they have more of a competitive edge in the industry. It was rather heartbreaking to watch Devyn, a contestant on Naomi Campbell’s modeling competition, The Face, reveal that she doesn’t consider herself a “Black girl model,” during an interview with Wendy Williams, which was seemingly a part of one of the competitive tasks given to contestants by the show’s panelists. The first red flag that appeared during Devyn’s interview was when Wendy asked her what advantage she believed that she had over her competitor Ebony, who just so happened to have darker skin.
” I feel like I have an international look and I have a story that can relate to everyone,” Devyn replied.
While her response seemed a bit suspect and a tad slighting, the way she answered the next question was mind-boggling and sent Naomi Campbell off the edge. When Wendy asked “Is it hard to be a Black girl model?”, Devyn responded:
” I don’t really consider myself a Black girl model. I know what my ethnicity is, but I’m fair-skinned and I feel like I have an international look.”
The moment those words left Devyn’s mouth, Naomi Campbell could be heard in the background, going off.
“What the f**k does she mean? That’s a disgrace. She’s a Black girl,” Naomi said to the other judges.
Since the airing of her highly criticized comment, Devyn took to her Twitter page to apologize to offended fans and suggest that the producers over at Oxygen edited her response.
Is “international look” the new code word for fair enough to pass the brown paper bag test?
Turn the page for footage of the interview. What are your thoughts on this? Was Devyn’s response misinterpreted?
‘A Fashion Show Doesn’t Necessarily Need To Represent Reality:’ Top Designers Called Out For Lack Of Black Runway Models
BuzzFeed delved into the issue of certain designers having runways filled with only white models, by talking to five known casting directors in the industry. Raf Simon’s who heads Christian Dior was the main culprit having virtually colorless shows, since taking over in April 2012.
To his defense, the designer is not the actual person to cast the shows, but he does have sway on the women chosen. Allegedly Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes – who also do Calvin Klein and Jil Sander’s stark white shows—are the ones who work with Dior.
“I feel we’ve made strides in the past three to four years, thanks to people like [former model] Bethann Hardison, but this season in particular was one of the worst seasons in terms of diversity,” said James Scully, the casting director for Tom Ford, Jason Wu, Derek Lam, Stella McCartney, Lanvin and Carolina Herrera.
Read more on StyleBlazer.com.