Things were bad on the runways in New York for black models, but at London Fashion Week, it was worse. British-born model Jourdan Dunn (pictured at left) was the only model of color to walk repeatedly on the catwalks this season. "I worry about it," she tells Style.com. "Luck is on my side that I keep getting cast, but there are so many beautiful black girls. I don't understand why it's always only me and maybe another girl who are chosen." Outspoken designer Katherine Hamnett is pissed. "The catwalks are full of white dogs," she tells the Guardian. (Hamnett is Caucasian.) "Cosmetic companies don't like black models — the racist bitches. I have no idea why when it's obvious that black girls are just so genuinely much more beautiful than Caucasians, who have clearly got the short straw."
Carole White, co-founder of Premier Model Management, says she gets casting directives from clients that say "no ethnics." And yet: London is a city where 29% of the population is made of ethnic minorities. 800,000 of its eight million residents are Afro-Caribbean. The fashion industry gets away with being blatantly racist by claiming that there aren't enough black models or that consumers don't buy products pushed by black models. But those are not valid excuses.
Writes Elizabeth Day:
It was not always thus: Yves Saint Laurent famously pioneered the use of black models in his runway shows in the 1970s. The economic resurgence of Marks & Spencer over the past few years has been largely attributed to its highly successful advertising campaign, featuring the black French model Noémie Lenoir. When Harper's Bazaar put [Liya] Kebede on its cover last year, it proved to be one of their best-selling issues — so much so that they are using her again for the front of their May issue.
Whether it's because of economics, trends or bigotry, the fact remains that black models are not "in fashion." But what's so stylish about racism and homogeneousness?
Against The Grain [Style.com]
Why Racism Stalked The London Catwalk [Guardian]
I'm So Looking Forward To When Race Is Not An Issue [Guardian]