Today's article is a little bit different from what I usually post. I wanted to talk about a more serious topic which is the representation of black people in the fashion industry. As far as I can remember, I've always been into fashion. When I was a kid, my mom used to buy interior decor and fashion magazines at the kiosk on Sundays. I was really fascinated by models, clothing and accessories. But I always asked myself, where were the black models in magazines? From the top of my head, I could only think about Naomi Campbell and Alek Wek.
In several interviews, they've talked about their hardships in the modeling industry. They actually have encountered similar situations. In the 90's, a lot of makeup artists didn't have foundation for their skin tone. they had to be creative and find a solution on the spot. They used to mix 3 or 4 different colors to get the right shade. It's crazy went you think about it.
Many hair stylists as well didn't know what to do with their natural hair. I can relate to this on a personal level even if fashion has nothing to do with my job. I live 20 minutes away Paris and there is no black hair salon near my place. If I want to get my hair professionally done in a black hair salon, I'll go to Paris. Sometimes I don't want want to go there just for my hair so one day I went to a (caucasian) hair salon in my neighborhood. I wanted to make an appointment for my natural hair. The owner told me right away: "I'm sorry but we can't take care of you because we don't know what to do with your hair texture. It wasn't included in our training program". Her answer really surprised me because France has always been a multi-cultural country so why wouldn't they learn about all types of hair? Anyway, I went home and decided it was time for me to take care of my hair. I guess you're never as well served as when you serve yourself.
To stay on topic, feel free to watch the video below. Dark-skinned models talk about what they had to go through because of their skin color. Their anecdotes are crazy...
Thankfully, there are signs of progress. A new generation of dark-skinned models emerged 6 or 7 years ago. Duckie Thot, Adut Akech, Ajak Deng, Nyakim Gatwech, Nykhor Paul and Anok Yai are all originally from South Sudan (most of them grew up in Australia). They're known for having a stunning deep-complexion, strong facial features (high cheekbones and full lips), long arms and very long legs. I'm the biggest fan of these girls.
Sudanese models are dominating the market but you also have amazing dark-skinned models from other countries. This includes Maria Borges from Angola, Khoudia Diop from Senegal, Leila Nda is Belgian from Burundian descent and Leomie Anderson is British of Jamaican origins.
Let's be honest, today you cannot open a fashion magazine whithout seeing black models. Many have become ambassadors for luxury fashion houses. I think it's really important for young black girls (from around the world) to see representation. They can flip through the pages and actually see someone who look like them. Unconscioulsy, these models are boosting the self-esteem of young girls and that's amazing.
Within the past few years, I have started to notice more black people in positions of power. The persons named below are paving the way for more diversity and equity. To some extent, they'll be able to make some changes not only for black people but for other minorities as well. Here's a list of some of the most influential black people (in my opinion) in the fashion industry:
Edward Enninful aka King of Vogue, Editor-in-chief of British Vogue Nikki Ogunnaike, GQ’s Deputy Fashion Director Rihanna, chief executive officer and artistic director of Fenty Maison and Fenty Beauty Pat McGrath, fashion makeup artist. Anna Wintour named her:"The most influential makeup artist in the world". Stella Jean, fashion designer Shiona Turini, stylist and costume designer Nicole Chapoteau, freelance stylist and fashion market director at Vanity Fair Julia Sarr-Jamois, stylist, consultant and senior fashion editor at i_D Tiffany Reid, editor-in-chief of Bustle Digital Group's lifestyle brands Law Roche, image consultant Tamu McPherson, fashion blogger (All the pretty birds) and former editor-in-chief at Grazia Italia
The situation isn't going to change overnight but I think we're entering a new era. Representation in the fashion industry is improving. We're starting to see more and more diversity. Yes, I'm proud whenever I see black models in magazines and black executives at fashion weeks but I'm also very happy to see albino, vitiligo, Middle Eastern, Asian models and executives.
Thank you for stopping by.