The fashion industry is not inclusive of racial and ethnic minorities. Many of the industry’s most celebrated and acclaimed fashion houses rarely cast models of color for their runway shows. Fall 2013 was one of the worst seasons in diversity for casting. Almost 83% of the models on the runway were white (source):
Faintly aware of this critique, some designers put a minority model on the runway every odd season. But while look-alike white models are hired en masse, designers often limit just how much color they’re willing to include. Chanel Iman, an extremely successful multiracial model, told The Times: “Designers have told me, ‘We already found one black girl. We don’t need you anymore.’”
Leila Ananna, a casting director for Burberry, Gucci, Emilio Pucci, Saint Laurent, and more, thinks that this is okay. Commenting on the lack of runway diversity, she said: “We think we need to keep in mind that these are shows. A show needs to make you dream, and it doesn’t necessarily need to represent reality.”
Ananna’s words pose many concerns. The idea that fashion shows are supposed to make you dream suggests that everyone is white in this idealized world. In contrast, I find the idealization of the homogeneous aesthetic to be a reflection of racism; this is a nightmare, not a dream.
Rebs (Wooyoung) Lim is currently a student attending Occidental College. She is interested in minoring in Sociology and majoring in Urban and Environmental Policy. She does not have a twitter account, sadly.