Photo: New York Times
Same song, different verse.
I cannot seem to escape the discussions centering around race, affirmative action, discrimination, socio-economics, etc. that have become more and more prevalent as we come closer to the inauguration of Barack Obama.
On NPR this afternoon, there was a somewhat heated discussion around affirmative action, most notably in academia. The New York Times ran an article asserting that, yes, it is okay to talk about race (thanks to Obama, naturally). Even over at Jezebel, a discussion around the next “wave” of feminism had me thinking, I don’t even want to talk about feminism any longer without at least acknowledging the filter of race.
However, it was a NYT Style piece that really had me engrossed. The article, detailing the lack of diversity on the Milan runways, read like silly, elitist and disconnected rambling. Not on part of the author, but his subjects:
“’Maybe they think it’s too obvious’ to feature an ethnically inclusive runway casting in the week of Barak Obama’s inauguration, Franca Sozzani, the Vogue Italia editor, said of designers. ‘It has nothing to do with a racist attitude,’ the editor insisted moments before the start of a Gucci show in which, as it happened, all of the models were white.
Frida Giannini, the Gucci designer, said after the show, ‘I think it would be great if there was an industry initiative on this issue, because I am always looking for black models, or even Chinese or whatever, for the shows.’
‘I’m after a specific kind of look,’ she added, ‘and I request the agencies — I asked last season — to send me someone interesting. But they never send me anyone very new.’
Too obvious? It’s fashion, everything is “obvious.” And even so, who cares? As for Giannini…..lord, the woman has talent but she sounds like an absolute moron. I am highly curious of the “look” she requested from the agencies, because this is the kind of subtle exclusion of POC that happens, even unconsciously. I can hear the conversation at the agency:
“Frida is looking for Palm Beach Socialite.”
“How about Hye Park?”
“No, I don’t think she’s quite right.”
Over at Style.com, Jourdan Dunn’s profile excerpt reads: “Note to casting agents: Dunn is on the record as saying that she’d be happy to share the spotlight with other black models.”
I long for the day when a Black, Japanese or Indian model is not looked at as a brokering chip or a PR pawn. Take, for example, the introductory paragraph of the Times piece:
“’Black Fever!’ the cover line reads on Urban, a tabloid giveaway being passed out at this week’s men’s wear shows. ‘From politics to fashion, photography to art,’ the editors of Urban assert, black is the color du jour.”
Also, is it just me, or is the ad shown below for Epson totally offensive?