NY Mag fashion writer Lindsay Peoples wrote an article yesterday about the closing moments of the Misha Collection Show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.
During the finale they played Beyonce’s tune Formation, while a posse of white models strutted down the catwalk. It’s a moment that Peoples says “didn’t go over so well”.
“It’s awkward to see a brigade of white models marching to a song that’s become a “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud” anthem for black women,” she writes.
All of this underscores fashion’s lack of consideration for people of colour. According to the Fashion Spot, among the 236 print campaigns from spring, 78.2 per cent of models were white — with every other race trailing far behind. 8.3 per cent of the models were black, 4 per cent were Asian models, and 3.8 per cent were Latina.
“To some people, Formation may just be a song, but a move like this shouldn’t be tolerated in 2016. It’s a slap in the face to use a love letter to black women so carelessly, without including women of colour in the conversation.”
Marissa Miller doesn’t mince words in her article on The Frisky.
“Fashion is political. There’s no catwalk-twirl around it. Models will always be the ‘wrong’ weight, coats will not be ‘fur’ enough. But file this under things white people should stop f***ing doing: exploiting and appropriating black culture in some offensive of attempt to seem ‘worldly’ or ‘down’.”
She goes on to say “the gross display of insensitivity overshadowed any kind of feminist statement the fashion line was trying to make”.
When model agency IMG posted a clip of the finale to their Instagram, they received hundreds of comments pointing out the agency’s “lack of self-awareness,” and the fact that there was not one black model present.
As one commenter succinctly said: “entirely white cast walking to formation I DIEEEEEEEE!!!!!”
It’s not just the Misha show that has come under fire for its decidedly pale presentation. The limited number of non-caucasian models has been an issue for many years, with Buzzfeed reporting that in 2013, only one single black model walked down the runway at MBFW.
Indigenous Australian choreographer Amrita Hepi believes the lack of cultural diversity is still a problem and wrote an open post to MBFW on Facebook.
“If you want to take from all of the subcultures and exoticism of minorities how’s about you at least put them in your shows? — don’t tell me you tried. TRY HARDER.
“Show me the real Australia. It’s better looking and browner and more unbinary and interesting than you think.”
Earlier this year, Aussie model Ajak Deng quit the modelling world following her manager’s comments on the “undertones of racism” in the fashion industry.
Deng’s manager, Stephen Bucknall of FRM Model Management, told the Herald Sunthat the industry favours “caucasian girls” over “dark skinned” models.
Bucknall said he struggled to book jobs for Deng in Australia, despite having starred overseas for Louis Vuitton, Jean Paul Gaultier and Valentino. She will also feature in 2016 campaigns for Givenchy and Marc Jacobs.
“They’ll book the big caucasian girls, spend the big dollars, and fly them in from LA, but I’m yet to see them book a dark-skinned girl in that way,” Bucknall said, naming fellow Aussie models Miranda Kerr and Jess Hart.
“The Australian market doesn’t want to take the risk of using darker models as mainstream models. But if you go to New York, you’ll see African-American, Asian, and all these diverse cultures. Australia just doesn’t get it,” he added.