Yesterday, leaders from New York, London, Milan, and Paris Fashion Weeks received letters accusing the respective councils of allowing and proliferating racism on the runways. Pointing out specific designers and labels (New York's CFDA received 26 notices, the British Fashion Council received 14, the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana received 31, and the Fédération Française de la Couture received 44), the letter was sent by The Diversity Coalition led by former model and activist Bethann Hardison. Said Hardison, "The point of this letter is that everyone should be discussing this — I mean everyone. It's like the MTA. If you see something, say something. Well, I'm saying something."
According to the letter, “Eyes are on an industry that season after season watches design houses consistently use one or no models of color. No matter the intention, the result is racism. Not accepting another based on the color of their skin is clearly beyond ‘aesthetic’ when it is consistent with the designer’s brand. Whether it’s the decision of the designer, stylist or casting director, that decision to use basically all white models, reveals a trait that is unbecoming to modern society. It can no longer be accepted, nor confused by the use of the Asian model.”
WWD reports that Steven Kolb and Diane von Furstenberg from the CFDA have discussed the letter in light of recent initiatives to encourage more awareness of a diverse lineup, and are open and willing to speak with Hardison to discuss further steps. Other leaders, like Didier Grumbach from Paris found the letter "unreasonable." Click through to read more reactions from The Camera and elsewhere. (WWD)