All Articles Tagged "black models"

H&M Under Fire After Racist Comment In Response To Lack of Diversity In Marketing Campaign

November 8th, 2015 - By Ashley Monaé
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Inequality in the fashion industry is nothing new, but every so often one major brands gets caught in the crossfire of the heated topic.

Most recently, mass retailer H&M rubbed many the wrong way with a Twitter comment that suggested white models portray a more “positive image” for the brand, according to Eyewitness News.

The apology came after social media user, Tlalane Letlhaku, tweeted H&M South Africa, asking the store to please include black models in their store campaigns to appeal to everyone.

H&M tweeted back that its workers make selections that “convey a positive image” in its stores. Check out H&M’s full apology below:




Ebony Salutes Black Models With Fall Fashion Issue

August 21st, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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0915-Ebony September Cover


The fashion world’s lack of diversity is no secret. Over the years, runway goddesses including Naomi Campbell and Iman have addressed how whitewashed the industry is. With New York Fashion Week quickly approaching and Black models only making up 8 percent of those booked for fall 2015 shows, Ebony decided to pay tribute to six models of color who are currently doing the damn thang with a 10-page photo spread  in the September 2015 issue.

The fresh faces include Chantelle Winnie, Milan Dixon, Fatima Siad, Marquita Pring, Diandra Forrest, and Samantha Archibald. The September roll-out will also include a “Black Designer Watch” feature that will highlight designers Rocho Omondi, Charles Harbison, Stella Jean, LaQuan Smith and Mimi Plange.

“Thank you Black models of then and now—so present and despite what seems like fewer of you working today—so there. We see you injecting brown bodies into spaces where we have all but been erased,” said Ebony Editor-in-Chief, Kierna Mayo.

Readers can also expect interviews with former models Beverly Johnson, Tyra Banks, Roshumba, and Pat Cleveland, who will “share testimonies that affirm that Black models are ambassadors representing far more than the physical grace of Black people; they also represent our pride.”

Model Goes Off After Having To Bring Her Own Makeup For A Show

August 12th, 2015 - By Chelcee Johns
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Screen shot 2015-08-12 at 1.44.32 PM

Nykhor Paul Instagram

After a recent unpleasant interaction with a makeup artist who had no clue how to do makeup for women of color, Sudanese model Nykhor Paul took to Instagram to voice her frustrations.

Often times, she said she’d been asked to bring her own makeup because artists did not prepare or stock for women of color. What she didn’t know was that she’d wake up to a full debate on diversity in the fashion industry due to her post.

A portion of Paul’s Instagram read:

Dear white people in the fashion world!
Please don’t take this the wrong way but it’s time you people get your shit right when it comes to our complexion! Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional show when all the other white girls don’t have to do anything but show up WTF! Don’t try to make me feel bad because I am blue black its 2015 go to Mac, Bobbi Brown, Makeup Forever, Iman cosmetic, black opal, even Lancôme and Clinique carried them plus so much more.  A good makeup artist would come prepare and do there research before coming to work because often time you know what to expect especially at a show! Stop apologizing it’s insulting and disrespectful to me and my race it doesn’t help, seriously!…That goes for NYC, London, Milan, Paris and Cape Town plus everywhere else that have issues with black skin tones. Just because you only book a few of us doesn’t mean you have the right to make us look ratchet. I’m tired of complaining about not getting book as a black model and I’m definitely super tired of apologizing for my blackness!!!! Fashion is art, art is never racist it should be inclusive of all not only white people, shit we started fashion in Africa and you modernize and copy it! Why can’t we be part of fashion fully and equally?

After posting, the message was spread around by fellow models, make up artists, industry professionals, designers and everyday individuals concerned about the lack of diversity in the industry.

Screen shot 2015-08-12 at 1.43.22 PM

Nykhor Paul Instagram

In an interview with, Paul discussed her viral Instagram message, it’s impact and what she hopes to see change.

“I’ve been in this industry for a long time, so it wasn’t one thing that set it off. It’s been a constant battle. It’s not just the makeup; it’s not just black models not getting booked. Dealing with all the makeup issues, skin issues, hair issues, it makes you feel inadequate, especially when you’ve come to work geared up and ready to do your job as a mannequin. This is not just something I’m going through—a lot of girls are going through this,” said the well-respected model.

But it’s not always easy speaking up, because “you risk being labeled the angry black girl,” said Paul.

Not all designers are created equal and there have been many that celebrate Black models. Just a few days ago, we spoke on model Maria Borges who went natural after the urging from designer Riccardo Tisci. Paul says Vivienne Westwood is another designer that always looks at black models.  But there’s a catch, while designers such as Westwood will look at black models there will often only be one black girl, one Asian girl and one mixed girl chosen out of 35 girls Paul noted of her experiences.

“…[It] isn’t about one runway or season, it’s really about consistently having a diverse group of models,” said the model turned activist.

Even though Paul has been around for a long time and is used to the nuances of the industry, she still expects real change to be made.

“I don’t know what the solution is, but I do feel people need to expand their idea of what black models can do. Black beauty can be Chanel, black beauty can be Dior, it can be Lancôme and all those things. Clients can have a narrow definition of beauty, but so can agencies. I was turned down like crazy by London agencies because they’re like, “Oh, we already have a dark girl like you.” Then I’d look it up and see that she was nothing like me at all. There is still the idea that if you have two dark girls, they are interchangeable. When you have a board of a hundred girls and only a handful are minorities, there is something wrong.”

Whether the solution comes as soon as we all hope, Paul is happy that her post has created “a healthy dialogue.”

“The issue isn’t new, but I’m hoping to see more change now. We’re in a time when people are more conscious and more aware of the realities,” she concluded.



African Model Chooses Natural Hair Over Weave And Wins

August 10th, 2015 - By Chelcee Johns
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Maria Borges

Photo by Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images

In best-selling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah the main character perms her hair in order to look as professional as possible for a job interview. Months after getting the job, the slim African immigrant is back to natural and out of a job in a week.

This extreme scenario may not be the case for all, but many African American women struggle with deciding the best way to wear our hair in corporate America. But could the tide be shifting? It is for Angolan model Maria Borges. Borges entered the the modeling industry sporting a long, straight weave often seen on many black models until a conversation with designer Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy changed that.

“He asked me to change my hairstyle,” Borges told Tisci had made the same request last season, but Borges was not up for it just yet.

“I had booked an H&M campaign that same week and at the time I wasn’t feeling as comfortable with change. This season I finally felt ready, and I’m glad that I did,” said the stunning model.

Borges removed her weave and did the “big chop” before her next Givenchy show for Fall 2015 and to her surprise many fellow models found her unrecognizable. Many Black girls who have done the same know what it’s like switching hairstyles among their non-Black coworkers.

“They didn’t recognize me at all,” recalled Borges. “There were people asking backstage, ‘Who is that new girl?’ which I thought was hilarious.”

But her new cut made her feel more confident on and off the runway. While the big chop can often be an emotional experience, many Black women find themselves growing in confidence as they accept their natural tendrils.

“I feel like I’ve proved that I can be beautiful with or without the hair. Since I’ve gone natural, I feel younger and fresher. With my short hair I don’t feel like I need makeup—maybe I’ll use a little foundation, but I’ll skip blush or lipstick,” Borges said of her new beauty regimen.

And the new look isn’t just helping her confidence, but her career as well. Since Borges went natural, she feels she has attracted a broader pull of clients and looks even more high fashion. Borges realizes the versatility of her new coif allows clients to pop in extensions when longer hair is desired or let her fresh cut flow.

“The industry—thank God—has become more accepting of individuality… I think that for those of us who grew up watching Naomi Campbell and all the top models who had beautiful long extensions, it’s freeing because now you don’t have to adhere just to that standard. You can change, you can go natural, you can have different colors, and you can be yourself,” said Borges.

Borges was discovered in 2010 when she placed second at the Angolan edition of the contest, Elite Model Look. She is a Givenchy favorite and has also walked the runway for Victoria Secret’s Angel collection, Marc Jacobs, Armani, Christian Dior and many more.


Liris Crosse Celebrates Her Plus Size Modeling Career While Building Her Own Brand

May 13th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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(Photo courtesy

(Photo courtesy

Plus size modeling is on the upswing as the fashion industry slowly comes to the realization that that average American woman is not stick thin. This trend made Liris Crosse one of the most sought-after African-American plus size models. Funny thing is when she entered the business she had no idea what plus size modeling was.

Hailing from Baltimore, Crosse fulfilled her childhood dream of modeling, spending a long portion of her 10-plus year career at Wilhelmina Models. She has modeled on the catwalk at the various Fashion Weeks and appeared in spreads for Essence, Glamour, Seventeen, YM, Girl, Honey, XXL, The Source, and Black Elegance magazines. She has appeared in campaigns for Lane Bryant, Ashley Stewart, Pelle Pelle, Karl Kani and Davouchi. She has even done music videos with acts from 98 Degrees to Jennifer Lopez and Jay Z.

In television and film, she’s added commercials for Charles Schwab and Amtrak, appearances on MTV Jams and BET’s 106&Park, and The Best Man and John Singleton’s Baby Boy to her portfolio. And Liris’ starring role in the indie film Abidjan, which was shot in Africa, toured the film festival circuit and has garnered seven awards.

Now Crosse, 32, is also looking to develop her brand with a fashion line and TV show in the works. She has already created the Liris Crosse Life Of A Working Model BootCamp, which launched last year. She’s also  gearing up for “Full Figured Fashion Week.”

MadameNoire: How did you get started as a plus size model?
Liris Crosse:  Even as a young girl I knew I wanted to model. I would follow Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and I just knew that was what I wanted to be.

My my dad was running for Congress in Baltimore and a photographer came to our house to take his photo and he also took my photo and said I should model. I was hooked. I’d put my mom’s towel on my head and act like I was walking down the runway.

Then one day I heard about Model Search America on the radio and I went. I got four call backs from places like Seventeen magazine, Zoli Models, and Elite Models. But they all wanted me to lose weight. I was into sports and I was like lose weight where?! But I did lose weight and I went back to Model Search America again, but this time I only got one call back. This didn’t discourage me. In fact it made me want to try harder.

MN: So when did you’d decide to go pro?
LC: I was all set to go to college but I still had a major itch to model. So I went to my parents and asked them if I could move to New York and just try modeling for one year. When they saw how serious I was, they let me and I’ve never looked back.

I went to Wilhelmina Models and they send me to a division  for 10-20 size models; they now call the department Curves. But I stayed with them for more than a decade. I am now signed to Dorothy Combs in the U.S. and Hughes Models in the UK…I would love to continue to develop my brand and branch off into other areas, fashion, film, anything that will complement my brand.

MN: What sort of things are you venturing into?
LC: I am developing my own online boutique, I have been acting in films and TV, and my model boot camp just celebrated its one-year anniversary. Through the boot camp I have been able to help a couple of hundred of women and some have signed on to agencies and have walked in runway shows. I am really proud of that.

I am also working on a TV project.I can’t say much only that it will be a great thing for curvy women everywhere.

MN: Do you think the fashion industry is becoming more accepting of curvy models?
LC: I think there has been a surge in the plus size model industry in the last couple of years. The new generation is not feeding into the stereotype that we all need to look one way. I think the younger generation is embracing diversity.

MN: What is next for you?
LC: I am gearing up for Fall Fashion Week. I am returning to the cat walk. The last time I walked was in 2013 and I am ready to KILL the runway again. I don’t know which designers I will be walking for, but I love Fashion Week. It’s like the Super Bowl for fashion!

MN: What will you tell others who might not make the cut but love the industry?
LC: I am an entrepreneur, so even though I model I am always thinking of other ways to build my brand. And I would tell others to think outside of the box as well. You may not model, but you can be a fashion blogger, a stylist, a makeup artist, photographer, a plus size advocate. It is an open arena, you just have to explore.

Model Says Donald Trump’s Trump Model Management Owes Her A Ton Of Money

October 21st, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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via YouTube

via YouTube

A model says Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills. A former model for his Trump Model Management claims she was promised an annual salary of $75,000, but got only $3,380.75 for 21 jobs over the course of three years, the Daily News reports. That’s a big difference. That comes to just over $160 per job — pretty low for an agency model.

So Alexia Palmer has filed a federal lawsuit against Trump Model Management, and she is proposing class action. Palmer charges that between January 2011 and December 2013 the agency not only took an agency fee of 20 percent from her modeling income, but made her pay a variety of “obscure expenses” that took the rest of her money, according to court papers.

The agency, which Trump founded in 1999, sent Palmer to a dermatologist and had her take walking lessons, while also deducting expenses for almost everything, from postage fees to makeup kits to limousine rides. Trump attorney Alan Garten, however, claims the facts in the lawsuit were exaggerated.“The complaint is bogus and completely frivolous,” he said.

Palmer, who is of Jamaican heritage, moved to the United States after being promised a guaranteed salary by Trump. At 5-foot 10-inch, Palmer has posed for Chanel and Teen Vogue, among other work. According her lawyer, Naresh Gehi, her rights were “miserably violated.”

“My client should be paid what she was promised,” said Gehi.

“Palmer was reportedly discovered as a high school teen in 2010 when she placed second in Liverpool-based modeling titan Pulse’s 2010 ‘Caribbean Model Search.’ Her images were soon featured throughout London promoting top cosmetic lines, and she scored a shoot for Teen Vogue with members of the cast of the TV hit ‘Glee,'” reports The New York Post.

Carol Alt, Kim Alexis and former Miss Universe and Miss USA Olivia Culpo have been signed to Trump’s agency.

[Photos] From Sudan To The Runway: Happy Birthday Alek Wek!

April 16th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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From StyleBlazer 

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 ELLEVogue 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 

The Catwalk Had A Little More Color, But White Models Still Dominated New York Fashion Week

February 20th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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A model walking in the Jeremy Scott show during NYFW. Jeff Grossman/

A model walking in the Jeremy Scott show during NYFW. Jeff Grossman/

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]

Black Beauties To Know And Love: Model Pat Evans

February 12th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Pat Evans 17

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.

Black Brazilian Models Take It Off, Go Topless In Rio To Protest Racism In Fashion

November 13th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Andres Otero/

Giselle Bundchen is the most famous model to come out of Brazil. Andres Otero/

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.