|Bruno with fashion accessory (video)|
By ERIC WILSON
Five years ago, the fashion industry faced a reckoning over the startling lack of diversity among the models on major designer runways. Reacting to complaints that many shows and magazines included nothing but white models, Vogue, in its July 2008 issue, featured a substantial article that asked, in its headline, “Is Fashion Racist?”...
And since then, almost nothing has changed.
The New York shows are as dominated by white models as they have been since the late 1990s, roughly at the end of the era of supermodels. Jezebel, a blog that has been tracking the appearance of minorities in fashion shows since the debate erupted, noted that the numbers are hardly encouraging. After a notable increase in 2009 that followed extensive news media coverage, the representation of black models has remained fairly steady until this year, when they accounted for only 6 percent of the looks shown at the last Fashion Week in February (down from 8.1 percent the previous season); 82.7 percent were worn by white models.
In Europe, where Phoebe Philo of Céline, Raf Simons of Dior and many others have presented entire collections using no black models at all, the opportunities have been even less favorable for minorities.
“There is something terribly wrong,” said Iman, one of the most iconic models in the world, who later created a successful cosmetics company. Her experience in the fashion scene of the 1980s and ’90s, when designers like Calvin Klein, Gianni Versace and Yves Saint Laurent routinely cast black models without question, was starkly different than that of young nonwhite models today, when the racial prejudice is all but explicitly stated. The increased appearance of Asian models over the last decade, for example, is often described specifically in terms of appealing to luxury customers in China.
Iman and her hubby, Lucifer Jones
“We have a president and a first lady who are black,” Iman said. “You would think things have changed, and then you realize that they have not. In fact, things have gone backward.”
Gay fashion designers barely even pay lip service to the dogmas of equality, so they never thought the rules of diversity applied to them. And for the last several years, they've been hearing constantly about what huge victims they are, so that's just made them even more self-centered and self-indulgent.