Friday, September 7, 2007

The Other Great White Way

Kenya Hunt, writing for Metro New York is the latest to voice criticism about the step backwards that many fashion houses have taken diversity-wise when it comes to casting models for shows.

"...the odds of an ethnic model making inroads into the runway realm growing increasingly dismal with time. “The runway doesn’t reflect the world. It makes fashion feel very backward,” notes Guy Trebay, a fashion reporter for The New York Times, who has written extensively about the subject. The dearth of minorities on the catwalk is a decades-long quandary. But many who work behind-the-scenes say the problem has worsened rather than improved, with groups of minority women unable to get jobs based on the whims that dictate what’s out and what’s in."

Of course, designers and agencies have a million and one excuses for the lack of color on the runway this season with some claiming erroneously that black and brown models don't "fit" their clothes or that they stand out too much, while others cite the imaginary lack of models of color. In my opinion both of these excuses are ridiculous. What it brings to my mind is an episode of Janice Dickinson's modeling industry "reality" show in which she chided a male agent for not championing models that he personally didn't find f*ckable (meaning blond and white.) It seems kind of ridiculous in this day and age to compare models of color to Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" but honestly, what other conclusion is the casual observer of fashion supposed to come to? Fashion designers and agencies don't "see" ethnic models because they don't have to. It really saddens me that that there were more ethnic models working when I was in junior high than there are visible today.

What is the ultimate effect of all this anyway? For me personally, it means that I don't buy a quarter of the fashion magazines that I regularly purchased ten years ago. While I still love clothes, my excitement about the industry as a whole has dampened considerably.


Fabulously Broke in the City said...

Hear hear.

I think if we had a stronger push or a voice of dissent from women as a whole to see their ethnicity represented on the runways, it wouldn't be so hard for models to find a gig... :(

But since we keep buying magazines that only feature white models, it just perpetuates.

I too have stopped buying mags because of cost, the fact that they recycle the same images/articles every issue, and they don't feature women of ethnicity.

CHIC NOIR said...

I remember in the late 80s and early 90's we saw a lot more models of color and why do black celebrities support designers who don't use black models. Why do they were Prada and BCBG, both houses never use models of color.