Saturday, October 4, 2008

Paris fashion week - fade out

(photo credit: Marcio Madeira/

Alone in a sea of white: Islandista Jourdan Dunn has been flying the flag high for models of colour but she's often all alone.

Paris Fashion Week, the last of the majors of the fashion season, is underway now. Diversity-wise it is looking much of a muchness. Most shows are barely trying or not trying at all to include models of colour, at least according to our friends at ShopHound who are continuing with their diversity report. Btw - we cannot give enough kudos to Shophound for taking the initiative to do this, even from afar, as they only directly covered NY Fashion Week. But they have been tracking the others through researching the photos of the shows from and checking to see how many models of colour were used. It takes great dedication on their part considering that other much more powerful fashion publications with greater resources could have done this and didn't - instead, they are referencing Shophound too. So big ups to them.Now... back to the matter at hand... diversity or the lack thereof. It seems in Paris that when they are good about diversity, they are very, very good but when they are bad they are horrid.
Some designers had a significant number of models of colour on their runways and went beyond using just a token or two and also went beyond just using the well-known names like Chanel Iman, Jourdan Dunn and Lakshmi Menon (often the only dark spots on the catwalks this season) and feeling like they have done their job. Hear this fashion world - tokenism is not the same as diversity. We ain't fooled, not one little bit.  Dame Vivienne Westwood for instanced, had one of, if not the highest DQs (diversity quotient if you're just joining us) of the whole season - 37.5%. She used five black models, Aminata Niaria, Hollis Wakeema, Adama, Thais Dos Santos and Sessilee Lopez, two Asian models, Han Jin and Shu Pei Qui and two South Asian models Puja Battacherjee & Kangana. I like it, I like it a lot.

Sonia Rykiel's actual DQ was low - about 10%, because she had such a big show, with over 100 looks on display but she used 6 models of colour - Lakshmi Menon, Chanel Iman, Jourdan Dunn, Hollis Wakeema, Hye Park & Liu Wen.

Jean-Paul Gaultier also used a number of models of colour, including 3 black models, Yasmine Warsame, Jourdan Dunn & Arlenis Sosa, 2 Asian models, Liu Wen & Kiki Kang and 1 South Asian/Indian model, Lakshmi Menon. His DQ was 22.7%.

Kris Van Assche only had 3 models of colour - 2 black - Shelby Coleman and Yordano Teshager  and one South Asian, Kangana but he only used 12 models altogether so it was a balanced show.

Dries Van Noten had 3 black models -Jourdan Dunn, Georgie Badiel, Aminata Niaria  and 3 Asian models - Hye Park, Tao Akamoto and Li Hyun Yi.

Other than that - things are looking woeful. Single digit diversity quotients and an appalling number of big fat zeros - Chanel could not fit in one non-white model amidst their huge catwalk of 41 and neither could Nina Ricci among 33. Others with O% DQs thus far are: A.F Vandervoorst, Ann Deemeulmeester, Balmain, Rick Owens and Yohji Yamamoto. Others just had one token black - as if anyone is fooled by that. I find it almost more insulting than the ones who left out women of colour altogether. Among the tokenists were big names such as Yves Saint Laurent (Chanel Iman), Valentino (Jourdan Dunn), Lagerfeld (Sesilee Lopez), Givenchy (Lakshmi Menon), Gareth Pugh (Jourdan Dunn), Christian Lacroix (Chanel Iman) and Balenciaga (Liu Wen).

Y'all really ain't slick. Yuh ent fooling a soul.

We're watching.

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