The lack of non-white models and suppression of ethnic diversity in the fashion industry isn’t a new concept. Ever since modelling became a highly lucrative industry in it’s own right, the vast disparity between the booking rate of Caucasian models against any other race has been commented on nearly as much as the dead-horse that is the ‘models are too thin’.
I won’t go into the ins and outs of fashion’s very complicated, abusive relationship with racial issues as there are so many great articles about it already. For every thousand of articles calling out the fashion industry for this blatant racial bias, and for each one there are a slew of industry professionals including editors, designers and casting directors all offering attempts at diplomatic responses that all give off a distinct air of ‘how can I not sound racist whilst making an excuse for something that is probably racist?’. Bad times.
Miles Aldridge, a well-respected, critically acclaimed, British photographer who has shot for practically everyone worth mentioning (Italian Vogue, US Vogue, Numero et al) and has hosted many exhibitions of his own, is the latest to have been called out for racial discrimination in his casting.
In an aptly named interview called ‘The Fucked Up World of Miles Aldridge’ for Bullett magazine, Aldridge attempts to explain why the models featured are exclusively white:
“I’m aware that my type of model that I photograph is a kind of version of my mother: very pale skin, very beautiful. There are no African-American women in my book. There are no Asian women in my book. There’s one large lady, so to speak. The rest are well, they’re beauties. They’re a typical Western concept of beauty, which goes back to what I grew up with: my mother’s copies of Cosmopolitan.”
On the one hand, I’m surprised that he actually was so blatant about his obtuse out-dated artistic concept of beauty, rather than giving a standard “I’m working with my favourite girls, it’s all about personality/casting directors only ever send me white girls” bullshit, but still? Growing up with “a typical Western standard of beauty” (a phrase which I have issues with anyway) doesn’t mean that you can completely write-off everything else that doesn’t enter your incredibly narrow sightline? This “Western standard of beauty” won’t ever catch up with every other aspect of the world if people like Bile Aldridge keep forcing non-caucasian models from magazines. It’s been 57 years since black people and white people could sit together on American buses, yet apparently can’t share a magazine editorial? That might seem like a bit of an extreme comparison, but using non-white models isn’t just an issue of aestheticism, it really is so tied up macrocosm of social and political attitudes to race. Fashion is an industry that relies solely on advertising, not using models that represent multinationalities is basically saying that being anything other than white is not aspirational the ideal, and so, won’t sell. AND THAT’S BULLSHIT, YO.
Anyway, read the full interview here: http://bullettmedia.com/article/the-fucked-up-world-according-to-miles-aldridge/
And here are some interesting links on race in fashion by people a lot more coherent than myself:
Here’s a rundown of this season’s 10 most booked catwalkers for AW13. Unsurprisingly, they’re all white, and it would seem that ‘blank canvas’ was very much the casting trend. A good turn for British models, with one girl in the top five (hay Sam), and also an amazing season for two of my favourite girls, Tilda Lindstam and Kel Markey. Tilda seems to be getting a fair bit of flak for taking the top spot, accusations of “basicness” are being thrown around (which seems ridiculous as compared to some of the others in the top 10 she’s basically Giselle), but in terms of fitting in with the theme this season she’s ‘plain’ enough to be versatile in any look, but she’s not a total no-mark, there’s definitely something special about her. She’s not classically beautiful, but she’s also not scary-quirky and there is definitely a place in fashion for “pretty” rather than DROP DEAD STUNNING girls. Look at the difference between Kate Moss compared to Naomi Campbell, for example, you can’t say they’re not both iconic looking, but for totally different reasons. It’ll be interesting to see how many campaigns the top 10 get, I’m really hoping Julia Nobis gets a few, I love an androgynous model and the fact that she’s not androgynous in an overtly sexual way (e.g Andrej Pejic, Erika Linder et al) could be really interesting for campaigns. Anyway, here’s the top 10 bitches cashing cheques this season.
10. Juliana Schurig, American, (DNA, Premier, Elite Milan & Paris) – 60 shows total, opened 2, closed 0
9. Caroline Brasch Nielsen, Danish, (Marilyn, Storm, Elite Milan & Paris) – 60, O4, C2
8. Julia Frauche, French, (Next WW) – 62, O1, C
7. Julia Nobis , Australian, (DNA, Premer, Elite Milan & Paris) – 62, O3, C7
If I was writing about The Central Saint Martin’s MA AW13 shows in the style of a professional know-about-these things person, I would say it was a vibrant, engaging and theatrical display, showcasing the expert tailoring and technical skills honed at London’s most prestigious fashion school. But what I really mean is, it was tits-mental and I loved it.
CSM’s AW13 reminded us yet again why London is one of the style innovators of the world with such a diverse collection that included the best of minimalism, maximalism, monochrome, Quality Street colours and everything in between.
Elena Crehan, having a Sibling/Meadham x Rocky Horror menswear moment. Really good legs, too. Bastards.
The collection that spoke most to my cold dead heart was from Hampus Berggren, who on top of having an amazing name, also brought my favourite thing in the world, ALL BLACK EVERYTHING. I love menswear, in general I find it so much more interesting to see menswear done really well than womenswear, I just feel there is so much further menswear can go, and whereas womenswear trends will get adopted en masse however ridiculous (heel-less shoes, anyone?), whenever I see anyone on the street wearing this kind of silhouette, it literally makes my heart LEAP. And also, anyone who can do sheer without it smacking of over-the-hill rent boy always deserves a special mention.
Patrick Bateman wipe-clean chic from Hwan Sun Park. So fresh and so clean, clean.
Following on from pre-fall’s obsession with pleats and ruffles, Jaimee McKenna‘s collection was crisp and neat in such a pleasing range of blues, including colour of the moment, cobalt.
Apart from bringing the medical support sock back onto the runway, Jessica Fawcett‘s mix of textures and materials was definitely noteworthy. Again with the pleats, the lightness of this look despite the domineering silhouette is pretty damn dreamy. Also, I’m always a fan of a ~sexy~ mesh insert.
Monochrome monk is another of my favourite kinds of look, and one I shall be replicating often in my dotage. Maggie Rydland‘s minimal collection
One of my absolute favourites, Sadie Williams is such a perfect example of how to do mixed textures without compromising a simple silhouette. I absolutely love the clean lines and shape to her dresses, and the mix of strategically placed leather on such shiny, brightly coloured fabric, on paper sounds like some kind of New Look nightmare, but William’s whole collection was luxe without being excessive.
Hello…is it one of those weird surgical balloons they use to rebuild people’s faces you’re looking for? Well if that’s your thing get your wallet out because yet again Toma Stenko gave us warped, unnatural silhouettes in browns and blues. The whole collection actually reminds me of when you mix acrylic paint and it dries in lumpy swirls of colour. One thing I love about the CSM MA show, which Stenko is such a good example of, is it beings so good to see someone doing exactly what they want to do rather than variations on a commercial theme.
The winner of this year’s L’Oreal Bursary Award was Eilish Macintosh. From minimal monochrome column dresses with white rope harnesses to beige and black PVC/leather attached by what looked like phone cord, so interesting from a technical perspective as well as a purely visual one.
When I’m a broke ass bitch the only thing I can think about is why I’m being denied the means to buy pretty things. Here’s my current list of demands.
As much as his first men’s collection under Saint Laurent Paris wound me up, I still really appreciate Hedi as a photographer. Available from LN-CC.
This is probably as summery as I’ll get, tbh. Available at Topshop
Airtex is summery, right? From The Ragged Priest
Givenchy Black Dahlia Noir.
I know, I know, another day, another dungaree. This pleather bad boy is from Miss Selfridge.
KFC Boneless Banquet. Don’t judge me.