With little historical knowledge of the fashion industry, aside from the marathons of America’s Next Top Model episodes I used to watch. I got the gist that racial inequality is a major theme in the industry, Tyra Banks would make references to models such as Naomi Campbell, Naomi Simms and Beverly Johnson constantly. These supermodels are icons and stand as the pillar for the doors that have opened for more models of colour to walk in runway shows and be the face of ad campaigns.
The gallery of fashion begun in Europe, countries such as Paris, Italy and Spain are renowned for housing some of fashions leading houses all owned under the umbrella of the white supreme corporation.
Nonetheless these fashion houses are very profitable and make a lot of money selling pieces all year round from couture collections, ready to wear collections and general customer friendly pieces. The most notable fashion house I would like to discuss in particular is Prada the company founded in 1913 by the Prada brothers Martino and Mario. Has been one of the most criticised fashion houses due to the obvious lack of racial diversity.
In 2013 it had been 19 years since the face of a Prada ad campaign was a black model. Naomi Campbell being the first in 1994 and Malaika Firth the second in 2013.
Credit must also be given to Namoi Campbell again who walked the first runway show as a black supermodel in 1997, followed by Jourdan Dunn in 2008.
The current creative director for the brand is Miuccia Prada who took over in 1978. I find it enlightening that Miuccia Prada is finally relinquishing to criticism and the views of her forefathers using 6 coloured runway models during her Milan Prada fashion show this season.
The brand creative has also used rising star Lupita Nyongo’o as the face of her Miu Miu SS14 campagin, positive steps for the fashion house.
Lupita’s explosion onto the scene came after the history of slavery was depicted in the Oscar winning movie 12 years a slave. I was uncomfortable with the title of the movie and more so the theme of slavery, because black history is only ever acknowledged when the topic of slavery arises. I hate this as there is evidence to show black history is more than slavery, we have a notion were we celebrate black history once a month throughout the entire year, aspects of our history is not taught in the education system at all. The education stops and starts generally of how badly the slaves were treated, nobody wants to know why or how this came about but I do, and I enjoy writing about it.
Italy is one of the largest cities in Europe that lacks diversity generally on the street, not meaning to be stereotypical towards those of Italian descent however the ideal Italian woman is not a 5 foot 11 black girl. You do not see them walking down the streets in Italy so why would be expect to see these girls on the runway of the fashion houses? The Europeans do not want to buy clothes off a black girls back but why? White Europeans can afford these luxury brands. The fact that most black people can’t afford these garments is for another topic and definitely a different time. Brands like Prada generate the most economical income for countries such as Italy. This again brings forth my debate that this is not only about colour in fashion it is how colour is perceived in Europe by the white corporate supremacist. If more history was done into European history the world would know that the reason why coloured people are shunned from Europe are due to the presence of the Moorish society from Africa that bought Europe out of the dark ages into a period of renaissance. The fall of the black moors in Europe in 1492 meant that coloured people were shunned and exiled out of Europe latter starting the roads to the historical path black people entered which was the transatlantic slave trade.
It is imperative actresses like Lupita Nyonogo’o continue to put the colour black on the map. It’s a shame that events that happened centuries ago are still shaping the way black women are viewed in society today however I am positive with the growing knowledge the nations will begin to accept.