All Articles Tagged "black models"

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.

White Models Still Ruled NY Fashion Week, But More Models Of Color Hit The Catwalk This Year

September 21st, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014 - Zac Posen - Runway (SIPA/

Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014 – Zac Posen – Runway (SIPA/

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.

It seems all the media coverage about the fashion world and racism, as well as the push from the  Diversity Coalition’s highly-publicized campaign for more black models might have helped bring more black models to the runway this year at New York Fashion Week. Things had been looking bleak for black models in major fashion shows.

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.

Black Twitter May Rise Up Against Designers Who Don’t Hire Black Models

August 12th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Shingai Shonowa, lead singer of The Noisettes, striking a pose at Africa Fashion Week in London.

Shingai Shonowa, lead singer of The Noisettes, striking a pose at Africa Fashion Week in London.

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?


André Leon Talley Speaks On The Elephants On Fashion’s Runways: Racism And Sizeism

August 9th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Source: Bridow/

Source: Bridow/


From StyleBlazer 

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 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 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 

15 Of The Finest Black Male Models Working Today

August 9th, 2013 - By Meg Butler
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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 Brathwaite

Shermon Brathwaite

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 Face’ Contestant Says She Doesn’t Consider Herself A Black Model Because She’s Fair-Skinned

March 22nd, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: Oxygen

Source: Oxygen

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.

Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 10.41.19 AM Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 10.41.34 AM Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 10.41.48 AM

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

March 20th, 2013 - By madamenoire
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

From StyleBlazer

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.


Where Are All the Black Models? Diversity Is Missing from ‘T’ Mag & The Catwalk

February 19th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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The Marc Jacobs Fall 2013 fashion show last week. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

The Marc Jacobs Fall 2013 fashion show last week. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

The new editor of The New York Times’ T magazine had to respond to a discussion that began after the latest issue of the fashion supplement reached readers this weekend. People remarked that the issue was noticeably monochromatic, with lots and lots (and lots) of white models. One reader, Susan Clark of Annandale, VA, said very specifically, “I assume the ads cannot be controlled, but I saw only one African-American and one Asian-American among the thousands of models in the ads. The T doesn’t look like my neighborhood or America.” OK!

Editor Deborah Needleman, recently of The Wall Street Journal responded. “It was something I noticed and regretted as we were putting the issue together. We are a global magazine and so would like the content , subjects and geography of stories to reflect that,” she began.

“A majority of fashion models are still unfortunately mostly white, but it is our aim to celebrate quality and beauty in all its diverse forms.”

To that end, Jezebel took a look at the level of diversity on the New York Fashion Week catwalks and it was notably lacking. According to numbers the site gathered, covered 151 shows with 4,479 looks. Of those, 3,706 — or 82.7 percent — were worn by white models. Asian models wore 9.1 percent of the looks (409), black models wore 270 looks, or six percent. And non-white Latina models wore two percent of the looks, or 90 of them.

J.Crew, Badgley Mischka, Diane von Furstenberg, Rebecca Taylor, and Zac Posen were among the designers who did feature models of color, while Calvin Klein and Juicy Couture were among those that had no models of color. Overall, there was less diversity on the runways this year than last.

The site, which has been tracking these numbers for five years, says that, within the industry, this preference for white models drives down pay for those who do get jobs, and makes it particularly difficult for the models of color who are vying for the few spots available. But there are larger implications also.

“And outside the industry — because the models who rise to the top of the heap doing runway are the models who go on to do the magazine covers, the cosmetics campaigns, the luxury brand ads, the billboards, and the TV commercials that girls all over the world can’t help but grow up consuming — it promotes the idea that beauty means having white skin,” the site says.

The fashion industry, known for boundless diversity in its creativity, must recognize the diversity in humans and celebrate it along with their designs.


Joan Smalls Covers Vogue Italia, First Woman of Color in 4 Years

February 27th, 2012 - By Veronica Wells
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Well isn’t she a sight to behold! This pretty young thing is none other than Puerto Rican beauty, Joan Smalls. Smalls is a pretty big deal considering she’s the first woman of color to cover Vogue Italia in four years. While this is definitely a side eye moment for Vogue Italia, (four years, really?) we’re certainly proud of Smalls’ accomplishments.

Photographed by Steven Miesel for his “Haute Mess” spread, you can catch Smalls on the March issue of the book.

Smalls tweeted about her cover saying:

OMG! Woke up this morning and saw this. Dreams do come true…

That’s inspiring.

Are you feeling the cover?


More on Madame Noire!

Are Ethiopian Models Over-Represented In The Modeling Industry?

February 23rd, 2012 - By MN Editor
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"liya kebede"


By H. Fields Grenée

I’ve never really thought much of beauty. As an African American female raised among an extended family where every skin tone, eye color and hair texture was represented – beauty was a rich texture of various shades.

Maybe this is why writing an article about the perceived increase in use of Ethiopian models by advertisers to appeal to the African buying audience seemed an easy task. But in actuality the subject proved to be a scorching hot potato issue. Few if any wanted to discuss the topic openly because it scratched the surface of an uncomfortable dilemma.

Since the early seventies, marketing budgets spent to attract African American consumers has steadily increased. Commercial plot lines went from rarely showing minorities to, in many cases, showcasing them, or more accurately – pushing an encapsulated ideal minority.

“With the recent interest in Ethiopian women, or women from the “horn” more broadly, it is amazing how almost blatantly Social Darwinist ideas get espoused,” noted Professor Davarian L. Baldwin, a Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies at Trinity College, who focuses on African Diaspora issues.

“So in the case of Ethiopian women, I hear talk about an “Ethiopian” skin tone, facial features, and bone structure. I hear so much about the beautiful skin of Ethiopians, not in terms of blemishes or smoothness but because it is seen as the perfect balance between darker sub-Saharan Africans and whiter Caucasians,” said Baldwin. “I also hear they are the perfect beauty blend because of their brown skin and yet long (more Caucasian-looking) hair.”

Though Baldwin purports “ideal beauty standards” for any ethnic group are ridiculous, his research clearly shows that “dominant” beauty types within groups both emerge and tend to change over time.

He notes an example of this found in the shift in Italian beauty standards from Sophia Loren, a “southern” Italian beauty of the ’60s revered for her smoky full-figured “dark” look versus the now popular fair-skinned, blond waif. Then there is the ever evolving face of Jennifer Lopez. Since first garnering attention in the late ’80s as a dancer on In Living Color, she has softened her look, lightened her hair and become the benchmark for “voluptuous” curves in Hollywood.

“To be sure something must be made of personal choice,” contends Baldwin, “but it seems far from coincidental that (JLo’s) personal choices move her closer and closer to the dominant beauty standards of U.S. media outlets as she has grown in “acceptance.”

“Yes the phrase ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder may be true,’” he says, “but it’s also true that beauty standards have emerged based on the repeated dissemination of certain types and the pay scales and contracts given to models based on particular features.”