Max Azria's shows tend to have a few defining features: a flirty aesthetic, a neutral palette of fabrics, and — for the past umpteen seasons — an almost all-white cast of models. Yesterday, I asked him why that is.
Since the Spring 2000 season, Azria has never booked more than three models of color in any single show — and his are big shows, often comprising more than 40 outfits. In fact, for a seven-season stretch in the middle of the decade, Azria hired an all-white cast for every single show he mounted. Since then, the diversity of Azria's casting — and the diversity of the modeling industry in general — has hardly improved. Although the problem is certainly not limited to Azria — Calvin Klein and Prada are among those brands who seem to struggle to bring themselves to book models who aren't white — Azria is notable because he is a commercial designer with vast impact on the marketplace. After this past February's fashion week, which was even less diverse overall than previous seasons, I noted:
One of the worst offenders was Max Azria. At his three high-profile New York fashion week shows, BCBG Max Azria, Max Azria, and Hervé Leger by Max Azria — each attended by virtually every important fashion editor, and worked by one of fashion's most exclusive casts — diversity was practically non-existent. BCBG had one black model, Shena Moulton, and one Asian, Shu Pei Qin, out of a 29-look lineup. Hervé Leger had only the same two girls of color, in a 32-look show. For his eponymous line, Azria showed 36 looks, and used just one model who wasn't white: Shu Pei.
This season, Max Azria booked, for BCBG Max Azria, only one non-white model. The Max Azria show had two Asian models and one black model. Hervé Leger had an all-white cast but for one black model and one Asian model. So yesterday, as soon as the Hervé show was over, I talked to Azria about it. Turns out I've got it all wrong; he casts based on trends and he simply has no idea ahead of time what kind of a "look" will be "in."
Funny that it seems being a white person is always in style.