(photo credit: The Shophound)
So New York and London’s Fashion Weeks have whizzed by in the last fortnight or so and Milan and Paris are still to come.
The question, especially relevant to us islandistas is – has there been more colour on the runways? Have we been seeing women like ourselves (well, not really like ourselves because the average islandista is not 6 feet tall but you get our point) reflected?
The fashion industry has been taking some licks over the last year or so over its lack of diversity with women such as Naomi Campbell (one of our favourite islandistas, even though she’s crazy scary), Bethann Hardison and Iman speaking out. The industry responded, tetchily and defensively at first but then with a few efforts, most notably the Italian Vogue all-black special which set the fashion industry alight.
So, has this all had any impact at all where it matters – on the runways and in the magazine pages? For New York’s Fashion Week, blog Shophound maintained a Diversity Quotient which they included at the end of every review. They also did a full report, listing the DQ for all of the shows they attended.
So what did it show? Well, things have gotten marginally better at least. Instead of just the token one black model (or none at all) designers have been making the effort to include two or three per show. Prominent black designer Tracy Reese led their stats, with 36% of her models being non-white. John Bartlett was close behind with 30% diversity. Brian Reyes followed with 27% and Ports 1961 and Ruben Singer both had 25%. At the other end of the scale, Jil Stuart had a measly 6.4% diversity quotient.
According to Reuters, Diane von Furstenburg, who as head of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) had urged designers to consider more diversity for their shows this season, also featured a number of black models as did DKNY. There was even a young black albino model, 17 year old Shaun Ross, who was featured in the Patrick Ervell show.
Still many shows only featured one or no models of colour. And things were even more woeful for Asian and sub-continental Asian models. In fact, Shophound reported that Lakshmi Menon was the only South Asian model featured. And we know islandistas come in all colours so this still does not augur very well.
Designer Michael Angel claimed:
“I don’t ever think about color, nor do I think of race. That is the most backward way to think.”
Hmm. Funny. His DQ was a measly 6%. Which actually represented a whopping one black model out of 19- Anabela, who modeled 3 out of 44 looks. Hmm. I guess he’s trying hard not to be too ‘backward’.
Anyhow, things are changing slowly or rather we should say moving slowly because truthfully it is still too early in the game to know if this represents a real shift or if it is just a temporary response to the blacklash of the last year. They say black never goes out of style but in fashion that has just not been the case.
Islandista catwalker, the Dominican (Republic) model Arlenis Sosa, armed with her brand new Lancome contract, got quite a bit of attention, as did Sesilee Lopez. Both were featured in the all-black issue of Vogue. Sosa actually made her fashion week debut in NYC and walked for some pretty big names such as Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Carolina Herrera, Proenza Schouler, Zac Posen, Narciso Rodriguez and Tommy Hilfiger. So that Italian Vogue issue is already starting to do its work.
Naomi sees a change. She says she is encouraged enough by the black representation on the catwalks that she is considering bowing out of the business. In an interview with the Times of London, she commented:
“This time they [designers and editors] have stepped it up. I feel positive. That means that I can go soon.”
Really, it remains to be seen. I think we all – bloggers, consumers, models, designers and so on, need to continue holding their feet to the fire.
So let’s do that.