The dominance of white models in last week's New York fashion shows wasn't lost on attendees.
Fashion photographer and "America's Next Top Model" judge Nigel Barker said, "Everyone is always talking about the weight issue, I think they should be talking about race."
In the midst of taking in 15 shows, he said he was "somewhat surprised" by the predominantly white casting at many of them. "I understand the idea it's based on. It's almost as though each girl is a clothes hanger. If each is seen as being the same, you're not going to focus on the girl, you're going to be focused on the clothes."
Often it's the celebrity designers, not the ready-to-wear or couture ones, who are willing to use a wider range of models, Barker said. "Showing different girls of different shapes and ethnicities involves taking a risk and some are not willing to take that risk."
More often than not, diverse casting was not the norm. Steven Kolb, executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, said the variety of ethnicities in Phillip Lim's and Diane von Furstenberg's shows jumped out at him.
"There were a lot of different types of ethnicities. Is it any different than in past seasons? That's a hard thing to compare. But it has been fairly white. Theirs was more the exception than the rule," said Kolb.
"Is that a reflection of the shows or modeling? Is it intentional? I don't think so. The fashion industry has always been known to have a real mix of people," added Kolb.
Patti LaBelle, who performed after Zang Toi's fashion show, said, "When you go to a fashion show, you may see one black model. It's so sad that it's so one-sided. I thought it was so admirable that Zang had so many types of models. When I go to a fashion show, I want to see me."
After the Luca Luca show, Irina Pantaeva said, "I see an Asian girl here and there, but it seems like it has always been that way. It seems like they can't have more than one or two, and it's the same with African-American models."A greater mix seems rudimentary "especially in New York City, the capital of the word, where all types of cultures and classes come together. Fashion in New York City should naturally represent that," she said.
When casting for her show, Kai Milla said she looks for someone interesting and who fits into her clothes. "I think great models are of all ethnicities. We're living in the real world and the real world exists with a real mixed group of people. What we as fashion designers show in magazines and on the runway is really important to young girls because it affects their self image," she said.
Maybe the borderless business is being interpreted in unusual ways.
One executive at a major design firm noted matter-of-factly, "We use all types of girls: English, Irish, American, Swedish. There is always a mix."
Mark Badgley said, "It's true I see many collections where it's one certain look or the girls are made up to look exactly the same. We like a little variety. I think it's nice to use some of the young girls, some of the more established girls. That's always what our shows are kind of about."
After modeling for Temperley, Rosa Cha and others, Solange Wilvert said she didn't think the casting in Bryant Park was drastically different than in seasons past. "Maybe there aren't many black models," she suggested.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews