Fashion Shows Lack Black Models, Say Iman and Naomi Campbell

| by Michael Allen

The fashion industry has never been known for its progressive politics, but the scarcity of black models on catwalks these days is hard to ignore.

Black models Iman, Naomi Campbell and U.S. model/activist Bethann Hardison recently sent a letter to fashion governing bodies around the world, which slammed fashion designers who used "one or no models of color" and resulted in "racism."

Campbell, Iman and Hardison condemned numerous labels, including Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs.

The letter stated, in part: "Eyes are on an industry that season after season watches fashion houses consistently use one or no models of color. No matter the intention, the result is racism. Not accepting another based on the color of their skin is clearly beyond aesthetic."

Fashion designers claim their only concern is to find models who go with their clothing.

"I don't only do shows for white girls, but I don't do quotas [either]. I choose girls that please me," Belgian designer Anthony Vaccarello told AFP.

His fashion shows include Asian and mixed race models.

"I never judge anyone by skin... I'm looking for the right personality. It depends on the season and the girl that comes to the casting. If she's right for the clothes I would definitely take her," claimed Damir Doma, who had one black model and two Asian models in a recent show.

"For the last two or three seasons, there has been a real passion for Asian models, especially Chinese ones," added Virginie Deren of the modeling agency Ford Models Europe.

"We have black models, but we are not asked for them for the catwalks. It's not racism. Things are not like that. Models have to fit in with trends [and] the current fashion is a minimalist one that the designers associate with Asian girls."

Chinese customers are more important to the fashion world these days as their economic power has grown.

Source: AFP