This past February, New York Fashion Week recorded an achievement that will hopefully sound less and less like one as the industry continues to make progress: For the first time ever, every major presentation included at least one model of color. What’s more, by the time the Europe shows had finished up, it turned out that the Fall 2017 shows made up the best Fashion Month yet for models of color; the Fashion Spot’s biannual report found that overall, the 241 major shows stretching from New York to London to Paris to Milan were made up of 27.9 percent models of color—a noticeable increase from the previous two seasons’s 24.7 and 22.4 percents.
As it turned out, the fall 2017 print ads ended up being even more inclusive than the runways; in fact, they hit a record peak in diversity, featuring 30.4 percent models of color. And now, it turns out that that happy uptick has continued into the spring 2018 shows, at least earlier this month in New York: Though the shows are still finishing up their month-long marathon, the Fashion Spot has already managed to take stock of NYFW’s runway statistics, which show that this time around, at least two models of color walked every show in New York, making for what appears to be its most diverse season in recent history.
Unfortunately, we’re nowhere near the point where it’s hard to do the math—the numbers have doubled since last season, with the overall percentage of nonwhite models landing at 36.9 percent—but it’s a major step forward for an industry that’s for the large part resistant to change in general. (Remember that time just last year when Marc Jacobs made headlines by simply announcing he’d be showing at 2 p.m. instead of taking his usual 6 p.m. slot?)
Meet Modeling’s New Faces: Diverse, Inclusive and Empowered
From left: Alexander McQueen coat, trousers, and sneakers. Burberry shirt and shoes. Thom Browne tailcoat jumpsuit and shoes. Charles Jeffrey Loverboy jacket and trousers; Beladora pocket watch; Raf Simons shoes. Alexander McQueen coat and trousers; Christian Louboutin shoes. Wales Bonner jacket, shirt, and trousers; Worth & Worth by Orlando Palacios hat; Maison Margiela shoes. John Varvatos jacket; Alexander McQueen shirt and trousers; pin from Melet Mercantile, New York; medal from Early Halloween, New York; Raf Simons shoes. Ann Demeulemeester jacket, trousers, and boots; sash from Early Halloween, New York. Alexander McQueen jacket, shirt, trousers, and pin; Worth & Worth by Orlando Palacios hat; Jimmy Choo shoes. Ermanno Scervino dress; Anne Fontaine bow; A. Brandt + Son earrings; Pologeorgis fur stole; LaCrasia Gloves gloves. Erdem dress; Beladora earrings; Prada shoes. Carolina Herrera belted dress; Adrienne Landau fur collar; Gucci heels. Alexander McQueen dress; Jennifer Behr headpiece; necklace from Eleuteri, New York. Gucci dress; Stephen Russell earrings; Adrienne Landau fur stole; Cornelia James gloves. Chanel dress and pin; A. Brandt + Son earrings. Simone Rocha coat, trousers, and gloves; Rebecca Taylor blouse; De Beers earrings; Chanel heels. Rodarte dress; necklace from Doyle & Doyle, New York; Gaspar Gloves gloves; Miu Miu sandals. Gucci dress; Beladora earrings; Leo Pizzo ring.
From left: Marc Jacobs coat and dress; Stephen Russell earrings; LaCrasia Gloves gloves; (right hand) Stephen Russell ring; (left hand, from left) A. Brandt + Son ring; Fox & Bond ring; Mark Cross bag; Miu Miu platforms. Wales Bonner cape and shirt; Ermenegildo Zegna trousers; pin from Melet Mercantile, New York; Raf Simons shoes. Beauty note: You’ll be seeing blue with MAC Crème Shadow x 6 in Glamorize Me.
From left: What Goes Around Comes Around jacket; Dries Van Noten trousers; epaulets from New York Vintage, New York; braiding from Early Halloween, New York; Church’s shoes. Hermès jacket and skirt; pins from Doyle & Doyle, New York; cameo brooch from Eleuteri, New York; Oscar de la Renta gloves; Nancy Gonzalez bag; Nine West shoes.
From left: Alexander McQueen jacket and trousers; Pierre Hardy shoes. Alexander McQueen dress, harness, and necklace; SheBee earrings; Attico bag. Beauty note: Frank Body Glow Mask keeps complexions in line.
From left: Tom Ford jacket, trousers, bow tie, and cummerbund; Emma Willis shirt; kilt pin from Melet Mercantile, New York; medal from Early Halloween, New York. Balenciaga jacket and trousers; sash and medal from Early Halloween, New York; Beladora pin.
From left: Prada trench, crop top, skirt, bag, and sandals; Patricia Underwood feather headpiece and turban; Beladora earrings; Leo Pizzo rings. Gucci jacket, shirt, trousers, neck bow, and shoes; medal from Early Halloween, New York.
Clockwise, from bottom left: Burberry capelet and dress; Lelet NY headband; Fox & Bond earrings; Beladora watch; Cornelia James gloves; Bertoni 1949 bag; The Row heels. Anderson & Sheppard jacket; Burberry shirt and trousers; (clockwise, from left) medal from Kaufman’s Army Navy, New York; medal from Melet Mercantile, New York; medals from Early Halloween, New York; Thom Browne shoes. Anderson & Sheppard jacket; Burberry shirt and trousers; medal from Early Halloween, New York; Beladora pocket watch; Grenson shoes, Burberry capelet and dress; La Perla nightgown; Cornelia James gloves; Bertoni 1949 bag; The Row heels.
This time around, Jacobs was in fact one of the few designers whose cast of models featured a majority of women of color, which is particularly good news given that, along with Raf Simons, Jacobs is a leader of New York Fashion Week, which has been floundering lately without its usual stars like Tommy Hilfiger, Altuzarra, Rodarte, and Proenza Schouler, all of whom opted to show in Paris this year.
But this season also brought some design newcomers, too: Torrid, the plus-size retailer, staged its first fashion show, and while unfortunately it barely managed to attract the industry’s attention, it definitely did contribute to this season’s milestone numbers when it comes to body diversity. Overall, 90 plus-size models walked the runway—31 of whom were courtesy of Torrid, and 25 of whom were courtesy of the plus-size brand Addition Elle.
The 90 accounted for what seems like a teensy 3.46 percent of models in total, but which is still in fact a huge leap, all things considered: Only 26 plus-size models walked last season, and only 16 the season before, and only four the season before that. (So even without Torrid and Addition Elle, the 34 plus-size models who walked in shows like habitually diverse Christian Siriano and Chromat, who were this season joined by the likes of Ashley Graham and Candice Huffine at Prabal Gurung and Michael Kors, would have been a landmark.)
Hopefully, the London, Milan, and Paris shows will live up to New York’s example, and hopefully they’ll also show evidence of LVMH and Kering’s potentially monumental charter protecting models’ wellbeing, which the two luxury conglomerates (and usual rivals) announced just before the shows kicked off in New York. Many of its aims seemed too good to be true, like insisting employers provide a psychologist or therapist at the model’s disposal during their working time, but at the very least, it can’t hurt in preventing more models from being trapped in a stairwell with the lights off.
Meet “The Importants,” Fashion’s Fresh-Faced New Army
“Ian Isaiah + Junglepussy Bath” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“Wink” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“Saint Chiki” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“Embrace” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“Mushroom Kids” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“Rainbow Lash” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“Deadfloat” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“Maluca Mala” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“Sicky Day” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“Teddy Boy” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“Audrey Hepburn” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“Backbeat” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“Eddy” by Kevin Amato in “The Importants,” published by Phaidon.
“The Importants” by Kevin Amato, published by Phaidon.
I Am an Immigrant: Fashion’s Biggest Names Issue a United Statement: