Tag: models of color

Former Model Bethann Hardison Continues Push For Racial Diversity On Runway, Sends New Letter

Bethann Hardison

When New York Fashion Week kicks off on Thursday, many commentators will be watching the runways closely — not just to see which collections will be most coveted come fall, but also to see whether designers have heeded the call to showcase more black models.

That call for action was sent out in September, at the start of the previous NYFW, by Bethann Hardison, a prominent fashion activist and former model. On behalf of the Diversity Coalition, a group of like-minded advocates and industry members, Hardison wrote a letter to the governing bodies of Fashion Weeks in New York, Paris, London and Milan, asking why “fashion design houses consistently use … one or no models of color,” and accusing specific designers of racism on the runway.

“Whether it’s the decision of the designer, stylist or casting director, that decision to use basically all white models reveals a trait that is unbecoming to modern society,” the letter read in part. “No matter the intention, the result is racism.”

Hardison and the Diversity Coalition sent out another email to the governing bodies of the world’s Fashion Weeks Tuesday, detailing the progress — and lack thereof — seen on the runway this past season.

The letter reads:

Last season we addressed the international fashion industry for their lack of conduct in being racially diverse. There was a marked improvement on the runways and a positive response to the letters received by the major fashion councils and the designer brands they count as members. First we will share the results.It is important to say that there are design houses serviced by casting directors and stylists who are latent, as they seem comfortable with stereotypical images.

Although progress was made last season within certain houses, the objective is to continue this improvement across the entire industry. We look for consistency and not because of advocacy or a season lending to darker skin.

So we will continue to watch and reveal season to season.

Diversifying is not difficult. The resistance to do so is intriguing.

Hardison and the Coalition provide a tally of models of color employed during the September 2013 shows by several designers, all of which had previously cast one or no non-Caucasian models during the February 2013 shows. Overall, as Jezebel noted at the time, there was an uptick, with some design houses adding as many as four or five models of color.

Here is a breakdown of New York Fashion Week’s numbers in the letter:
diversity coalition

The Coalition also provided numbers for Paris, Milan and London.

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Victoria’s Secret 2013 Fashion Show Includes More Stunning Women of Color

Model Cindy Bruna walks the runway wearing Bolero and Corset with Swarovski Crystals at the 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at Lexington Avenue Armory on November 13, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Swarovski)
Model Cindy Bruna walks the runway wearing Bolero and Corset with Swarovski Crystals at the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Swarovski)

Shimmering lingerie and dazzling faux-wings marked the official broadcast of the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Tuesday night – and while some of the show’s famous stars returned to the catwalk, several women of color made their debut.  Supermodels Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio and Doutzen Kroes were only a few of the veterans who strutted down the aisle again. But it seems as though this year’s show included more diversity than ever before.

Joining Joan Smalls and Jasmine Tookes on the runway (who also participated in last year’s presentation) were at least four other women of different ethnicities who were dressed in some of the lingerie brand’s finest pieces.  There is Malika Firth, a Kenyan-born biracial 19-year-old who was cast as the first black model to be the face of Prada’s since 1994 – a large feat, especially considering that supermodel Naomi Campbell was the last black woman at the helm of the designer brand.

Cindy Bruna, who is from the South of France but was born to a Congolese mother and an Italian father, joined the beauties on the runway. Then there was Maria Borges, a 5’11 Angolan model who won the 2011 Ford Supermodel Angola title.  Brazilian model Lais Roberio and Ming Xi, one of the most-sought after Asian models, also joined the sizzling-hot lineup.

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