The black fashion model of yore—with her fierce strut, brown skin and I-know-you-want-to-have-this-body attitude—is now akin to scraps of fabric in an Parisian atelier or New York design studio—capable of being apart of something made beautiful, but useless in the eyes of someone void of vision and the ability to take risks.
As many of the ensembles and haute couture frocks— brought to life by the those same colorful beauties throughout the 80’s and 90’s—now meet reverence on displays in museums across the world, where on the fashion pyramid of importance rest the black model? Is her worth less than a garment?
power of $857 billion dollars, close to $30 billion of which is spent on apparel. It’s safe to assume those numbers have risen, and it’s also safe to assume that the past decade has been a hard lesson for minorities—men and women—in the modeling business (and fashion in general). Casting a black girl these days is something of an anomaly, met with unnecessary acclaim and attention when it happens. Use supermodel Linda Evangelista’s “I don’t wake up for less than $10,000″ comment as a scapegoat for the omitting of supermodels and the subsequent shift to the “uniformity” of models if you want, but that’s a rationale that is clearly un-vogue.The current runway white-washing is an apparent collective business decision. For some peculiar reason, black consumers are seemingly not included in the target demographic of many fashion houses and labels. Baffling, right? According to the 2010 US census report, Black consumers had a buyingt a substantial portion of that money patronized luxury brands, despite the reality that minorities make salaries significantly less than the “majority”
Rewind over a decade to the days when
worked the runway—in the same show. Sounds like a dream. But this was a real moment. Six women of color (and sometimes more), representing not only their origin, but the concept of beauty in general—not to mention walking circles around Cindy Crawford and crew.
Granted the noughties wave of black models—
and relative newbies,
have managed to carve out successful careers despite the current preference (read: shaded discrimination). But them walking as the sole representation of color is not enough.
After years of outcries for diversity from former model and agent Bethann Hardison, and several town hall meetings with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), has anything REALLY improved? Depending on whom you ask the answer might be yes (Jourdan Dunn’s newBurberry advertisement, nor any ad featuring Naomi, counts). Since when did being Black become a trend? Does the Black model have a future?
Guess one will have to wait and see…