LISTEN UP: With the official start of New York Fashion Week: Men’s and Women’s in sight, the Council of Fashion Designers of America reminded its contingency to keep an eye out for models’ well-being during what is a particularly hectic time of year.
An e-mail from the CFDA’s Diane von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb on Tuesday informed recipients that the CFDA “will continue to grow its health and wellness initiatives through the CFDA Foundation + Equinox Coalition for Health as Beauty.”
The CFDA also spelled out its Health Initiative, noting “The CFDA Health Initiative is about awareness and education, not policing. Therefore, the committee does not recommend that models get a doctor’s physical examination to assess their health or body-mass index to be permitted to work. Eating disorders are emotional disorders that have psychological, behavioral, social and physical manifestations, of which body weight is only one.”
Von Furstenberg and Kolb also reminded recipients of the need for diversity, making the point, “New York Fashion Week is also a celebration of our city’s diversity, which we hope to see on the runways.”
There was also a link to the racial diversity guidelines as provided by the Diversity Coalition. Founder Bethann Hardison, whose name and e-mail are included for further information, said she is encouraged by greater diversity on the runway. She plans to host another dinner, as she did last fall with Edward Enninful, for 12 models at the Edition Hotel. “It was just a beautiful evening seeing the difference of the coloring and their having success with what was going. It wasn’t just for one season and they’re gone — they’re building a career,” Hardison said. “It’s good for restaurants and places like that to see so many beautiful girls, women, people of color. In some of these restaurants, you don’t see a lot of people of color.”
Hardison also noted that agencies are striving to find other girls and “it seems to be no one is shying way from the possibility that there is a market for it.”
Even still, she does not envision a time when there will be a 50-50 ratio. “It’s not our world. People of color didn’t start fashion or the modeling industry. I don’t even care if it’s not. If anything, I’d encourage every young girl to go into technology if I could. The fact is it’s somebody else’s ballgame we’re playing in,” Harrison said. “As long as the number keeps growing and the girls are beautiful and are competitive to their white counterparts, it’s a beautiful thing.”
But casting directors, designers and other decision makers need to get past the idea that they can only have three or four girls of color. “Don’t stop and think, ‘OK, I’ve done three or four that should be fine.’ I think that’s what they do. They pat themselves on the back and think, ‘Four seems good.’ There should never be any stop for a number. They should just keep going until they think, ‘OK, we’ve got our cast, we’re good to go. Let’s roll.'”