This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture


This season’s new Black? Racism.

This Magazine Staff

While the tidal wave of F/W 07/08 floods retailers with fresh stock, inciting everyday consumers to buy and accessorize for this seasons latest must-have fashions, there is a growing concern of the whitebreading of fashion to levels not seen since the 60’s. Paris, long the bastion of pomp and pretension, recently presented the latest collections and angry industry watchers are already crying foul. A foul of blindingly white proportions.
Asia’s return to global significance, largely in part by the robust consumer base in rising China, has lead to notable Asian beauties into the fashion pack. Few girls have achieved the unbiquity of household-name, supermodel status, and fewer still are male, but there is at least identifiable progress from years ago when there was not a spot of Far Eastern heritage on the catwalks of Paris, Milan nor New York. Yet, with the launch of Chinese Vogue, it was indeed a white supermodel, in the form of Australian Gemma Ward who centred the premier cover issue. Admittingly strange, but perhaps an artistic contrast? Unfortunately not. India, the latest country to enter the Vogue fold, has recently launched and featured the exact same formula– a white model flanked by local ethnicities. And that white model? Again, Gemma Ward.
Not to personalise this against Ms. Ward, who has quite a reputation as a lovely girl aside from being ridiculously good-looking, but does it not obviously reak of “beauty colonialism?”
Never to be outdone, feisty supermodel Naomi Campbell is also focusing here formidable energies towards the issue with the recent decline of assignments for black models in editorial work. Rallying equally high profile support from a racial justice league of supermodelfriends, including Iman, Liya Kebede, and Tyson Beckford, she chides the industry of the rapidly decline of black exposure, confessing even her own obstacles against the closed industry.
“There’s a fine line between artistic vision and discrimination,” Anna Park, a regional attorney for the Los Angeles District office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, told the New York edition of Metro. “If a designer chooses to define a certain vision as all white or all black, you run the risk of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” With the increase of heightened global interconnectiveness, it seems a bit last season to envision something so sadly undiverse.

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