Maybe some of us will live to see the day when the fashion industry fully embraces ethnic diversity and it’s no longer a BFD to see a non-white model in a big campaign. That day hasn’t come yet (obviously), but some companies are doing a significantly better job than others when it comes to equal representation.
We’ve just gotten our first look at Givenchy‘s spring 2014 ad campaign, and because the world isn’t always a miserable black hole of dispair, we were thrilled to see that it’s the first of its kind to feature only women of color models. Hell yeah.
Gorgeous-beyond-belief Erykah Badu looks incredible in the new ads, and designer Richardo Tisci describes her as “an icon” and “one of the most stylish women I’ve ever met in my life.” In an interview with Style.com, Tisci discusses the diversity problem in the fashion industry, as well as the media opprobrium that several designers and photographers have been under in the last year. He gives himself (maybe too much?) credit for being one of the few at whom the criticism wasn’t aimed:
Me, I was one of the persons who ended up not being touched by this [criticism]. I discovered Joan Smalls, I discovered Maria Borges. I discovered a lot of black girls, and I’ve been always supporting them. For me, I grew up in a family and I grew up in a culture, an education, that we are all the same.
I mean, that sounds a little bit own-horn-tooting, but the message is solid. I also tend to cringe at the idea of “we’re all the same,” because it kind of implies that ethnicity doesn’t matter at all, when in reality our different backgrounds play a big part in shaping our identities– but I think it’s clear that Tisci is trying to emphasize how race isn’t a reflection on who someone really is or how beautiful they are. To which I say, duh. Right on.
Tisci goes on to add,
At the end of the day, why are not so many black girls or Latin girls in shows? When you have an American president who is black! When I see this happening, it’s quite sad, I think. People can be so avant-garde, so advanced, but actually not, because people are still making differences between skin color.
I mean, you could argue that there’s nothing advanced or avant-garde about having one biracial president compared to 43 old white guys, but again, it’s apparent that Givenchy is making a real effort. Snaps all around.
Via Refinery29 / Photo: Getty