Fashion & Racism Drama: Token Ching Chong, Token Nig Nog

Written By bryanboy

Token Ching Chong, Token Nig Nog

Let me pick your brain for a bit. This is a long, race-sensitive blog entry so I request that you exercise some caution.

Now that everyone seems to have gotten over the whole size quadruple
zero brouhaha and fatties are now being represented by Gemma Ward at
Chanel, people are now going gaga about the lack of coloured models and the photo mosaic above, courtesy of V Magazine, is a good representation of what they are whingeing about.

Click click click!

Y’all know how it goes on the
runway — you got an army of hot, white skeletal androids with the odd token asian
AND/OR black person and bam, instant "diversity".

After the recent Spring/Summer 2008 fashion week season, everyone’s gone ape-crazy about this whole race issue and they raise a valid point.

Yes — I’m talking about the chinks, the niggers, the sand niggers, the wetbacks, the curry people, the mixed-raced G.I babies, the smurfs, the care bears, the Mings, the Yings, the Lings, the Tamikas, the Tawandas, the Allah El Jebarumbahalas, the Dolores, the Ma-reeeeee-yas and pretty much everyone else who isn’t aryan chic.

I know it’s been an issue right from the start and, after reading all these articles online, everyone’s gone ape-crazy!

Everyone is playing the blame game. Model agencies and casting directors blame the designers and designers blame the agencies.

Vivienne Westwood, on the other hand, pointed out that magazines are "racist" yet she
only sent one black model down the runway.

I read something from V Magazine’s blog entry (the photo he used is soo appropriate. it’s soo now! lol) the other day where superstar modelmaker Angus Munro said:

"Calvin Klein really got their casting spot-on and set the scene for the rest of the season. The girls were elegant but with a bias towards the fresh and the new."

Whereas Cathy Horyn from the New York Times complained about the same exact show.

"Another thing: all of the models in the show were white, with hair at a uniform length. You can’t tell women to be individuals in their style and then not show a range of individual faces, hairstyles
and ethnic backgrounds. It seems out of touch."

Here are some random fashion trivia, courtesy of the folks at TFS and other resources I compiled.

  • Naomi Campbell walked for Prada twice and did their Spring/Summer 2003 ad campaign. The last time Miuccia Prada hired a black model was back in 1995.
  • Christian Lacroix used a black model for his presentations this season for the first time in ages. He was a big fan of Alek Wek and used her regularly in the late 1990s. He used a fair share of black models early on when he designed for Emilio Pucci.
  • Since Fall 2005, Karl Lagerfeld has not used a black model for his own label Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel and Fendi. He used to support them a few years ago though.
  • Calvin Klein and Versace has not used a black model on the runway since Spring 2004. The first time Versace used an Asian model was Spring 2007.
  • Roberto Cavalli (and like many designers) tend to use black models in shows whenever they fit the theme — think of "Out of Africa".
  • Tom Ford, believe it or not, always used a wide variety of models for both Gucci and YSL. In fact, he helped the careers of Liya Kebede, Ai Tominaga, Nadine Willis, Ujjwala Raut and Yasmin Warsame.
  • Paco Rabanne sent a black model down the runway for the first time in Paris… 1964.
  • Chanel Iman is the ethnic "IT-girl" of Spring 2008 as she walked 58 shows in New York, Paris and Milan.
  • Calvin Klein, Prada, Balenciaga, Jil Sander, Chloe and Versace sent an all-white girl cast for Spring 2008.

I guess what it all boils down to is image.

Fashion, ultimately, is all about looks and this is where image comes handy. Whether it’s H&M or Prada, a good image sells.

Fashion is big business and like any other business, they spend a ton of money building, cultivating, nurturing and protecting their image… especially when their brand is rich in history and tradition because tradition is definitely one of luxury’s strongest selling points.

A luxury brand should not be expected to cater to everyone. After all, what makes luxury appealing is the exclusive nature of it. Luxury and exclusivity come hand in hand. Old school fashion houses were built on the foundation of white affluence and wealth as their core customers. Sad but true.

As an example, it would be extremely hard to send a battalion of blacks, arabs and indians (since they’re a very good representation of UK’s non-white population) down the Men’s Burberry runway show in Milan to sell traditional, conservative, well-cut, very London, very English suits.

Can you imagine? I can’t!

Ozwald Boateng, yes. A coloured person at Burberry Prorsum, no.

Or what about an all-south east asian model cast, think thai trannies at the Oscar de la Renta show wearing Oscar’s luxurious dresses?

WASP socialites would run away from Oscar in droves and never buy him again!

Also, remember what happened to Burberry’s trademark check pattern and how they disassociated themselves from it? How it used to be the bastion of English luxury only to be owned and favoured by working class British white thugs chav scum?

I suppose fashion’s biggest fear is that when you send non-whites down the runways/ad campaigns/etc, people of that race would think "oh, we should buy this label because they cater to OUR people" etc.

I think this is what fashion houses are scared of:

burberry chavs

burberry chavs

or this

Gucci gang

or this

chanel

Can you imagine if Karl Lagerfeld made me his muse and sent me down the runway at Chanel? You know it’s Armageddon… judgment day when that comes!

What’s next?

Y’all can whinge or whine all you want but fashion is fashion. It’s the only industry where one can freely discriminate someone based on their looks — hair, chin, nose, height, weight and yes, even their race. I’m not saying we should all just stop sending models of colour because it’s a lost cause. Racism should NEVER be tolerated by anyone.

What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t **FORCE** ALL the designers to make their campaigns look like a United Colors of Benetton ad.

Designers, after all, have a certain image in mind . It’s part of their vision for their brand. If that vision calls for pale white ghosts then so be it.

Designers, fashion houses and publishing houses (magazines etc) have freedom and they exercise it well.

As consumers, we are also entitled to the same freedom with our choices.

For instance, I don’t buy fashion magazines with celebrities on the cover. FULL STOP.

If a designer’s vision, brand, beliefs and practices truly bothers you then by all means don’t support it.

Don’t buy anything from their brand.

Don’t force yourself into something they want YOU to aspire to.

Don’t buy the make-up, the fragrance, the shoes, the bags, the entry-level designer shit.

Don’t read their magazines.

Ignore their ad campaigns.

In fact, pretend they don’t exist.

Write to your favourite ethnic celebrity and ask them to stop supporting the designers who don’t share your sentiments.

Ultimately, your purchases speak louder than anything else.

Time and time again you hear about the whole "WE REPRESENT BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN SPENDING POWER" statement from groups.

Well, like the old PETArd saying goes, when the buying stops, the killing stops too.

I hate PETA though so give me my chinchilla coat.

At the end of the day, aryan, chink, gook or nig nog model down the runway, you’re still gonna lust over that $4,000 bag because it has a label on it.

You’re still gonna buy shoes from Prada because they’re oh so gorgeous and the devil said so.

You’re still going to salivate over those Chloe dresses because they’re absolutely stunning and Paulo Melim Andersson’s creations are refreshing… and those beautiful white shoes are priceless.

You’re still gonna masturbate over Martin Margiela’s sunglasses and shoulder pads because they’re fabulous in spite of the fact that he didn’t show a black or asian coochie down the runway.

And whether you like it or not, the Japanese (and your typical fashion victim such as myself) will still go ape-crazy over those cute Chanel ankle pouches the same way your homies from the get go will buy Louis Vuitton.

Let’s face it… we’re all fashion whores.

LOL.

So where do I stand?

I think it wouldn’t hurt to see a more diverse cast of people as the faces of fashion: black, white, brown, off-white, medium brown, chestnut brown, blond, strawberry blond, redheads and yes, even smurfs, too.

I know it’s the trend to send those gorgeous identi-kit white clones down the runway with blank canvas features and one flaw (nose/chin/hair/eyes/Masha Tyelna) etc. It really is sad that designers these days don’t celebrate diversity given their customers come from all ethnic backgrounds.

Black can be beautiful. Brown can be beautiful. Half black, half brown can be beautiful. Even smurfs can be beautiful.

Just make them stop reaching out for them damn calorification crap called food and they’re gonna be beautiful.

Everyone is beautiful except me cause I’m a fat old bitch.

But like most things in fashion, this aryan chic trend shall pass.

I applaud Diane Von Furstenberg’s stance on this issue and I also love the brilliant and diverse casting at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Those gaysians sure do know their thing.

In any case, white, black or brown, all I have to say is…. Olga Sherer for the mother fucking win! Homegirl walked a grand total of 73 shows during the Spring Summer 2008 fashion week season!

Olga lookin’ good backstage at Valentino…

Olga Sherer at Valentino Backstage

… and on the runway at Alessandro Dell’Acqua.

Olga Sherer at Alessandro Dell'Acqua

Olga Sherer at Alessandro Dell'Acqua

Olga Sherer is the hotness!!!!!!

I love you all as always. I’d love to hear what *YOU* have to say about this whole brouhaha.



40 Comments

  1. ihatethatilovebb

    Yasmeen Ghauri belong to the league when Cindy, Linda, Claudia, Naomi, et al were reigning. That was the early 90’s. Even before that, Anna Bayle walked every runway you could think of. She may not be popular as she is not seen often on a cover of Vogue but you might have seen her on the inside pages. And she’s Asian. Filipino for that matter. It may be high time that Anna Wintour puts an Asian model on the cover but i’m willing to wait.

  2. Curtis Cawley Jr.

    Though I love Prada, the label is most racist of them all. Thanks for doing this post, B.
    Kisses,
    – Curt.

  3. single white female

    This is one of the things what I hate about fashion. They play blind with the reality that beauty comes in various shapes and color. I’m so bored of the asinine 15-year old aliens they send on the catwalks.

  4. BB is so brilliant, it’s dizzying. I love these sort of entries! It goes to show that BB isn’t just a fashion whore but a brilliant thinker and writer as well. More love.

  5. the reason why black models are not being casted is because most black people are wider and rounder than their white or asian counterparts. the trend now is bony, death-defying and skeletal, with snejana, vlada and olga as stars. chanel iman only got inside the door because she’s extremely thin for a black person, she’s 1/4 korean and she had the vogue cover from may.
    i wish there are more black models. variety is the spice of life!

  6. Hey BB,
    A friend showed me your site a few weeks ago and you’re awesome!
    I used to intern for one of the top agencies here in NYC and you would never believe the lies and excuses some of our senior bookers give to these young girls of color. It’s astounding.

  7. IM SORRY BUT BLACK PEOPLE ARE NOT WIDER AND ROUNDER THAN WHITE FOLKS THIS IS SO STUPID TO SAY THAT
    I KNOW YASMIN WARSAME AND SHES REALLY SKINNY
    I THINK THEY JUST DONT WANT TO CAST THEM AND THATS IT THE TREND IS TO BE WHITE SKELETAL AND ALIEN LOOKIN THATS WHAT THEY LOVE NOW…

  8. Being a bit of an aryan goddess myself, I’m not offended by the trend, but I miss (not ideologically, but aesthetically) the beauty of girls like Alek and Liya. I’m not really buying the affluence/image argument for designers shying away from ‘ethnic’ girls either. There are black and asian models out there who look more distinguished than the most uppish, polished royalty you’ve seen west of the Urals. Most Euro-money is in the hands of eurotrash anyway.
    That said, I’m totally against the whole morally self-righteous slant the press have taken on this so-called problem. There’s no need to censor designers’ choices. You’re not turning to Michaelangelo and asking him why he didn’t tuck a token negress away somewhere in his sistine chapel frescoes. If you’re going to whinge, make it an aesthetic complaint, not a play-on-your-heart-strings moral one.
    Finally, I’m not Karl Lagerfeld – but if I was I’d make you my muse in the blink of an eye. That jawline is sharper than the heels at Jil Sander! Work it!

  9. Fashion is discriminatory. It discriminates the ugly vs the beautiful, the out from the in, and the trash-worthy to the wardrobe worthy. That is its nature.

  10. I think it would have been better if Chanel Iman and Hye Park were removed from that model collage. It really screams ‘tokenism’! It’s true what they say… a photo speaks louder than a thousand words.

  11. some cranky journal fiend

    ha! try manila as the most racist in it’s own backyard. they’d rather book those boring brazilians and tofu-like caucasians for editorials and magazine covers when the country is practically oozing with stunning brown beauties.

  12. Come back in style

    don’t think this is racism really. what happened is that white models came back in style with a vengeance. they never really went out of style completely of course but there was a time when you almost had to have a drop of non-caucasian blood to be a model (helena christensen, christy turlington, yasmeen ghauri, naomi, noémi, emma sjöberg, none of these girls were 100% caucasian were they) and the New Aesthetic is a rediscovery of an austere kind of Caucasian beauty. it’s not so much that blacks asians et al are beautiful too (they are evidently) but that caucasians with uncompromising caucasian looks are beautiful too, olga sherer being a perfect example as blacks/asians/whites might considerer her as fug as she’s not a template of universal beauty. it’s a pity though that all of this does seem awfully racist from the outside and snotty towards you poor blacks and asianns and latina and arab mama’s

  13. TRASHIONISTA

    ‘For instance, I don’t buy fashion magazines with celebrities on the cover. FULL STOP.’
    You say this, yet you worship Anna Wintour, a female who is notorious for putting celebrities on the cover of American Vogue as opposed to models.

  14. Trashionista
    I love Anna Wintour as someone to admire — she’s a powerful and influential figure in fashion. She helped an enormous amount of people with their careers, gave athem jobs and made fashion a billion–trillion dollar industry. I may not agree with her cover choices but her work ethic and her contribution in the fashion industry in general is something that I love.

  15. valley girl
    your opinion is like a butt.
    everyone has one and is entitled to.
    hahaha JK :P
    nah
    i love olga. she looks great from EVERY angle. such an elegant, fierce face.
    girl is flawless!

  16. Arriviste

    What offends me is the engrained thought in people that brown = less than. People who think that Europe has the best culture obviously isn’t well traveled. If you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone even once you’d realize the beautiful, rich cultures that exist all over the world. To limit yourself to only ONE ideal…ONE aesthetic is contradictory to the very idea of high fashion and that’s to be an intelligent, sophisticated individual. You cannot be CHIC and IGNORANT at the same time.
    That’s my two cents.

  17. Triscuit Wheatsworth III

    Yea it would be nice if they would get some more diversity in terms of models, but look at who most of the designers are people!! They’re mostly older white people.
    It would be even nicer tho, if they picked some Asians who were actually pretty too instead of these rough looking country peasants all the time who are ugly and completely forgettable. Chanel Iman? Hye Park? Not mine or anyone’s ideas of pretty.

  18. This is a trend, albeit it doesn’t stray far from the norm which is of course the very pale and the very skeletal. Like the 90’s were chock full of gorgeous models who really were beautiful with sharp features and everything(!) and now the trend is monotony, ethereal, alien etc. I think that’s fine for now but I miss the skeletal AND sexy. aside from a few memorable faces (in the pale) the rest are all forgettable and will be forgotten by next season. Who knows, maybe by next season brown will be in (hey, it could happen) and so it should be considering many of the top crop of models as of now are about as ordinary as it gets, save a few like Agyness and Rachel Clark’s legs, its sad really…the amount of gorgeous, boney, fierce brown girls out there is staggering.

  19. tart fuel

    The time will probably never arrive my friend. I can’t imagine it in Wintour’s era. BB’s post actually reflects how younger designers are more open-minded likewise people in general. Older fashion houses I can see being more racist. Sigh, therefore I will be buying more from “diverse” labels, runway-wise or ad-wise. Has anybody seen the all-Asian/all-black cast Moschino ads? GORGEOUS!
    I am also tired of seeing white aliens on the runway. They are not attractive at all no matter how hard I try to think. Not fun anymore. Anything but that! Shapely blonde white girls are fine!

  20. tart fuel

    The time will probably never arrive my friend. I can’t imagine it in Wintour’s era. BB’s post actually reflects how younger designers are more open-minded likewise people in general. Older fashion houses I can see being more racist. Sigh, therefore I will be buying more from “diverse” labels, runway-wise or ad-wise. Has anybody seen the all-Asian/all-black cast Moschino ads? GORGEOUS!
    I am also tired of seeing white aliens on the runway. They are not attractive at all no matter how hard I try to think. Not fun anymore. Anything but that! Shapely blonde white girls are fine!

  21. tart fuel

    The time will probably never arrive my friend. I can’t imagine it in Wintour’s era. BB’s post actually reflects how younger designers are more open-minded likewise people in general. Older fashion houses I can see being more racist. Sigh, therefore I will be buying more from “diverse” labels, runway-wise or ad-wise. Has anybody seen the all-Asian/all-black cast Moschino ads? GORGEOUS!
    I am also tired of seeing white aliens on the runway. They are not attractive at all no matter how hard I try to think. Not fun anymore. Anything but that! Shapely blonde white girls are fine!

  22. I don’t understand hiw white people actually find that Olga Sherer beautiful ! I mean the girl IS UGLY! Come on people open your eyes!
    Now honestly, if you had a choice who would like to look like Noémie Lenoir or Olga sherer ? To me the answer is obvious ! Noémie, Naomi, Eva pigford those are the truly beautiful girls! I do believe that white people ARE jaleous of black, mixed and asian beauties and, because those white bitcheswish they looked like us. being on the cover of fashion magazines is nothing because in real life when a naomi campbell lookalike walks down the street, everybody will stare at her and the poor gwyneth paltrow lookalike will get nothing ! it’s a fact exotic people are more beautiful than white people , just face it

  23. Prada may have hired a black model back in ’95, but Naomi never starred in one of its ad campaigns in 2003. I take most info from TFS with a pillar of salt.
    BB, you look better than any woman in Chanel.

  24. …and whatever happened to charo ronquillo? she did place 3rd at Ford Modelling search but her career really didn’t take off..she’s really pretty…i guess her resemblance to Kate Moss didn’t do her any good…

  25. Hey Brian!
    You mentioned that Chloe and Balenciaga did not have any non-white models in their shows this season. Actually, that’s incorrect.
    South Korean Han Hye Jin and South Korean Hye Park BOTH did Chloe: http://www.style.com/slideshows/fashionshows/S2008RTW/CHLOE/RUNWAY/00180m.jpg and http://www.style.com/slideshows/fashionshows/S2008RTW/CHLOE/RUNWAY/00050m.jpg
    Hye Park for Balenciaga: http://www.style.com/slideshows/fashionshows/S2008RTW/BALENCIA/RUNWAY/00100m.jpg
    You many consider them tokens, but they WERE there. Thanks!
    (PS: Calvin Klein was a mess. It looked like they just made twenty clones of a fifteen year old German schoolgirl and sent them down the runway.)

  26. DOLCE & GABANNA used Hye Park (the korean supermodel) as the face of their latest ad campaign, i believe its F/W 07? (She’s in a silver dress and its a futuristic concept)

  27. Han Jin and Daul Kim is a staple for CHANEL runway these days. They’ve been casted every season recently, i think for their 4th time.
    Hye Park is literally everywere and she is currently the 19th top model according to models.com
    Hye is the face of Dolce & Gabbana F/W 07 this year as well.
    http://asianmodelsblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/hye-park-for-dolce-gabbana-fall-2007-ad.html
    Du Juan’s popularity seem to be going down but she was the face of Louis Vuitton’s website few seasons ago.
    However I do feel there aren’t enough black models these days.
    Chanel Iman and Liya are the only two.

  28. Loved this post! It was my first time reading your blog. Funny, informative, and insightful.
    I think the Eastern European model look will definitely pass. Everything in fashion is cyclical. In the 70’s, it was all about the blonde. blue-eyed girls. If they were American, so much the better.
    One must also remember that most models that walk in runway shows are used repeatedly. Only about 20% of models (give or take) do runway, and obviously, the same 20% are used all the time. Most modeling money is in print.

  29. I think the ‘ethnicity’ disappeared when the sexiness and self-confidence of the models disappeared. Since a certain Ms. Moss ghosted onto our TV screens whispering the word ‘obssession’, it’s all been about cutting the models off at the neck, swapping lush sensuality for paralysing remoteness. I think that black people in particular represent a kind of realism and sexual confidence which, among the neurotics of the high fashion world just isn’t ‘zeitgeist’. Screw ‘em.
    The ’70s and early ’90s were all about reclaiming pleasure and sensuality, after the drippy hippy ’60s and militant, power suited ’80s. Black women exploded onto the catwalks and white models flaunted shiny golden skin, luscious curves and sassier, fun loving attitudes. Things come back round, and once the arrogant avant-gardesters get over their infantile desire to shock, disgust and fly in the face of mainstream taste (cf. the bad old days of heroin chic), black and Asian beauty will bounce right back into proud visibility.

  30. a change will come

    You used such tasteless racial slurs that I couldn’t focus on the point of this article. Get some class!

  31. Two points:
    1) The audience at runway shows, the wholesale and retail buyers, the fashion culture, is mostly white. In that sense the ethnicity of the models fairly represent those in the business of Fashion. Add to that, rich, white, impossibly thin, and ridiculously young and you have the “brand” lifestyle that is Fashion. In truth, the models at runway shows don’t represent anyone’s reality no matter their ethnicity.
    2) On general principle, all peoples should be represented in model choices inasmuch as that is the world we should strive to live in, an inclusive not exclusive one. All peoples should feel, however symbolic the reality, welcome at the table. The sad truth is that fashion is ALL about exclusion, a point that is endorsed and reinforced by the fashion industry through product, advertising, publishing, and other media. Selling hyper-reality has been the strategy of the industry from the very beginning. As you said, it is not an equal opportunity industry and we should all stop endorsing it with our buying dollars.

  32. riceroni

    I don’t know if I would go as far as to call all the older fashion institutions racist, but if one did they did not make any strong arguments for themselves. Ultimately what it’s going boil down to is women of coulour and white women over 110 lbs. will pretty much boycott these brands. As stated above if you want to send a message and hit someone where it hurts, in the pocket would be just the place. After all why support someone who doesn’t support YOU?

  33. Well I disagree that most Luxury labels are bought by WASPish types. Completely untrue. Labels like Chanel, Gucci, and Prada are all the rage in Asia, where there is a large market of affluent Asian buyers. Luxury brands generate a great percentage of their revenue on the international market. Morever, the notion that the wealthy are exclusively white is in itself racist. By shunning racial diversity, luxury labels risk ignoring a huge slice of the high-end markets at there own cost.

  34. andrew johnson

    Firstly i am black.Racicm is not even racism,its more of a thing that people are scared.Or further more people do not understand(not racist just dont know).As a fashion designer i would use the most beautiful girls from all walks.evenly.And i know for a fact the sales will remain the same.If someone likes your clothes they are gonna buy them “period”.I went to manchester the other day in my porsche!went into a textile warehouse(visage).The textiles were nothing special.Only to be followed around the shop 5 metres by a jewish guy.Obviously he thought i was going to shoplift a 10 foot roll of fabric.
    but at the same time there is a saying”tight as a jew”i never understood what that meant.but at the same time he is discriminating me he doesnt even realise he is discrimating himself and giving people a reason to diss his own race.rasism is rife.but who cares.If you shine you will shine!

  35. T Nails.

    Just look at the most influential person in fashion. Anna Wintour. She’s white and rail thin. And you wonder why the magazine hardly feature black or asian models?

  36. This article was a hot mess bb..in some good ways. I don’t even know when Asians started becoming models, and I don’t know why black people even try. I also am baffled we talk about these issues periodically like the industry will ever change. It’s like asking the KKK to accept a non aryan member by force. The fashion industry is WHITE. It appeals and wants to appeal to a white aesthetic, it validates Aryan caucasian values and shuns everything else…..is this news? Bc I def got the memo. It will never change. Most designers think brown, black, yellow are ugly and beneath the integrity of the brand…and yes that is racist…but the fashion industry has no place for morals,and no time to apologize for what it is.

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