I was quite elated this past week when I looked at my Instagram feed and saw that @FashionBombDaily made a shout out to Zac Posen’s NYFW runway show. His latest 2016 collection featured predominately black models. #BlackModelsMatter! I quickly searched the hashtag to view more images and I was emotionally moved. As a stylist, I have been accustomed to seeing mostly white models with a rare sprinkling of black models. It was refreshing to see a highly respected fashion designer take the risk of having multiple models of color cast in his show (and yes, the fact that this is a “risk” is sad in and of itself). No doubt that Mr. Posen met many a nay sayer along the way. The images were phenomenal. Representation is validation!
Young black girls and women have the opportunity to see multiple models of their skin tone, who have their hair type and stunning features strut down the runways of NYFW. That being said, it was only one show. The rest of the shows were business as usual. I do recognize brands that do cast models of all colors, but they are in fact a rarity. I then went on to my other fashion and style news sources and saw a lack of response or acknowledgement of #BlackModelsMatter. FashionBomb Daily, The New York Times, CNN, Refinery 29 and CFDA discussed the event. But, shouldn’t this be THE story of the week? It’s barely a blip on the fashion week radar.
In order for #BlackModelsMatter to have meaning, we as fashion lovers and consumers (essentially anyone who wears clothes) must first acknowledge the systematic and consistent devaluation of black beauty in the fashion and beauty industries. The relative lack of acknowledgement of the Zac Posen show says a lot.
And if you believe that #AllModelsMatter, then you have issues. Clearly #BlackModelsMatter is a part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. And if black models, black people actually matter to you… feel free to acknowledge it.