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.
- Ignoring Diversity, Runways Fade to White [New York Times]
- Why Are All The Models White? [Guardian UK]
- Runway Racism Clouds Paris Fashion Week [Deutsche Welle]
- Modelling Agencies Blamed for Racist Culture [Independent UK]
- Fashion World ‘Bias Against Black and Asian Models’ [Daily Mail UK]
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:
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!
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.
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…
… and on the runway 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.