NYFW Designers Still Prefer Caucasian Models Over Non-Whites

jourdan-dunn-karlie-klossImaging and branding for fashion designers have been as influential as the designs themselves. Jenna Sauers, a writer for the popular feminist blog Jezebel, has been analyzing and reporting on the racial diversity of models at New York Fashion Week starting Fall 2008. Reports show a mere four percent change from 2008 until now. Thirteen to Seventeen Percent non-whites have walked the runway at NYFW.

According to Aussie Fashion Blogger Demi statements like ” The designer isn’t racist, they simply have a vision and (insert minority here) may not have been right for the collection.” have been the response for most designers.

Models from other designers like Tom Ford, Riccardo Tisci, Saint Laurent, Gucci and Burberry are casted by dynamic duo Nicoli and Ananna and they have been able to cast a diverse range of models with success and still compete as top brands.

But is that truly diversity with only four blacks and twelve Asian in Nicolli and Ananna castings for Fall 2013? In a report by BOF Nicoli claimed that it wasn’t about the model’s skin colour, but the body, the face, the attitude and the aesthetic of the designer.

“I think if you’re very strict on your collection and have a vision, it’s pretty difficult to accept someone who is far from your idea of the woman wearing your clothes,” she said. “It’s all about your beauty ideal, not the colour of your skin or race… It’s also true that, for example, Caucasians have a specific body type, black girls have a specific body shape, and Asian girls have a specific body shape. So I guess there are some collections where it’s more perfect for an Asian body shape because they are more flat and less sexy, in a way. Asians, they are not curvy, so to put an Asian [who’s] very flat [with a] baby body shape in a show where normally the designer knows they love sexy, beautiful, curvy girls, it’s a bit of nonsense. If you do it, it’s just because you have to or you want to please your customer coming from Asia.”

Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes — casting directors for Calvin Klein, Jil Sander and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s The Row — are also notorious for their all, or near-all, white line-ups. Calvin Klein, in particular, just this past season was entirely Caucasian. And here’s where it gets even worse: in the last eight years there have been only six different black models and zero models of other ethnicities, other than Caucasian, featured in their shows, according to an analysis of imagery on Style.com.

Demi Sinclair states, “The first issue is that many in the industry simply do not recognize this for what it actually is: racism. Remember, this is the same industry that dressed Karlie Kloss in a traditional native-American headdress to model lingerie in the Victoria’s Secret show and paints white models black. Discrimination based on the colour of a model’s skin is not uncommon. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Joan Smalls revealed that she was repeatedly told by agents that “there’s room for only one” model of colour. The outspoken Chanel Iman shared a similar struggle with The Times: “Designers have told me, ‘We already found one black girl. We don’t need you any more.’” And earlier this month, Jourdan Dunn told British talk show host Jonathan Ross the story of how, during fashion week, a makeup artist simply refused to work with her because she was black.

This isn’t about filling a quota. It’s about getting global brands to recognize that when they send an all-white cast down the runway, they are promoting an ideal of beauty that does not include the majority of the world’s population. This is problematic. It’s not only troubling from a business perspective. It’s also a social issue. And the bottom line is, a casting director is simply not doing their job right if they cannot see beauty or relevance in models of colour.

There is no simple or quick solution. The modelling industry is unregulated and, unfortunately, many simply say this is how fashion is and it’s not going to change. But, in the end, if all you do is put out an all-black issue, as Italian Vogue did back in 2008, then simply go back to what you were doing before, it’s nothing more than tokenism. The truth is, it only takes one or two people at the top to move things in a better direction. Like Gianni Versace, who created the supermodel, and Miuccia Prada, who dismantled her, it is possible to make changes — and those changes need to start now.”

Check out Demi Sinclair’s full article at:


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Categories: High Fashion, Lifestyle, News


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2 Comments on “NYFW Designers Still Prefer Caucasian Models Over Non-Whites”

  1. April 24, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Reblogged this on .

  2. ablackgirl
    September 12, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    Statements from the casting directors and designers say only one, they did not make their collection for black woman plain and simple. Any words to explain the reason for not including black models are excuses and bull cramp.

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