28 March 2013

Lately….Model Diversity

“A great model is a great model, no matter who she is; she can take on any role. I don’t understand why only white girls could be that sort of gin‐soaked boozy girl in Louis Vuitton [this season]. A character can be multicultural. We live in a multicultural world. At this point, it’s almost irresponsible not to represent that on the runway.”­‐ James Scully (Casting Director for Tom Ford, Jason Wu etc)

Finale at Dior
With an ending to Fashion Show, I did a lot of reading to catch up on shows, reviews, model success stories and I passed a few arguments, opinionated articles and posts about how white-washed the runway was.

I began to think about racism and multiculturalism, and I hold it very dear to my heart due to my Asian heritage. I was lucky enough to grow up without racism, but I do know how hard it is to deal with and how it affects people greatly. How does this relate to the fashion industry? It’s a given fact that the runway has always been home to ‘white’ girls, the fact that racism is nothing new in this industry and it is showing no signs of improving, even with a bigger diversity of models being casted every season. Some of the world’s biggest labels that of Calvin Klein or Dior, are notorious for filling up their runways with white models. In Asia, it’s very rare that any Japanese, Korean, Chinese or even Vietnamese models to be casted for any major shows, let alone getting booked for anything outside of their homeland ‐ actually now that I even mention it, if you go through any Vogue China, Nippon or even Elle Vietnam you're bound to see 70% more white models being booked for photoshoots and cover shoots. Very rarely does a Vietnamese model make it on the cover of her own homeland's major magazine.

In my opinion and understanding, it’s always been extremely difficult for a black model to become successful as a model; there are lucky models like Naomi Campbell who had the backing support of Gianni Versace and Yves Saint Laurent and Joan Smalls who had Riccasrdo Tisci and Karl Lagerfeld‐ without a major designer house support‐ there is no success. I personally believe that a beautiful model should should be booked for how she presents herself in her job and how she’ll present the garments, not the tone of her skin.
I can vouch for the other side though when I know that when a designer has a theme or concept for their clothes, they envision a muse that will carry their garments, and of course all different models have different body types, thus not all caucasian models have the right body shape to have a dress hug their body, or if a designer has a sexy concept for their collection, not all asian or black models embody the 'sexiness' appeal that of a European or American girl, true true. Some designers may be stricter than others with what they envision, but you know… I feel like the audience will identify more with models, collections, designers and the idea of fashion if there's more than a bunch of white girls walking down the runway.

This industry seems to be the only industry that hasn't fully moved on from the superiority of the white‐ in T.V, in media, in society, all diversities are appreciated, but it was stated at 90% of models that were cast for the Fall/Winter 2013 season were all white. I’m glad that over the past four years, more and more diversity in castings have happened, with models like Park Soo Joo taking on the major runways, it’s showing that the people in this industry are starting to see the damage of the issue, but it’s still a problem that needs to be completely wiped. So how, and what should be done to fix this?
I always think it all comes down to initiative, determination, time and reaching out to the right people. The media could help to spread the word, people who love this industry, breathe it, live it. But it’s also people like Anna Wintour or Anna Dello Russo who have such powerful positions that they could just force the crap out of people to do something (like change a casting of models for a show) and people would scurry off to do it without arguing back.  . It’s a step-by-­step process that needs to be done in groups of people, and I suppose living in this time and generation is really good for that, we have so much media, social networks and ways of connections that it's impossible not to be able to do it.

Final at Calvin Klein 
Fashion is about the clothes and it's what has interested me to draw me into the industry, so I hope that things will start to change. Or that I may hopefully be able to help make that change. Discrimination should not be around. It was something of the past that should have been fixed and banished ages ago.
Overall though, while I'm really passionate about trying to get this issue sorted (and I know it'll take more than just… talking, it'll take action), I also don't like to talk about this issue since it's so….. sensitive. Some people will bounce straight to a conclusion and say that designers have muses that they can't do without but in the end it's up to how people value the industry.

In the end, a model is a model and that's it. There is no race or the colour of their skin or their status or their homeland. A model's job is to uphold an image of beauty, a body, a face and an attitude to present clothes. Ah, fashion.