Why Black Models Protested The Balenciaga Show

Photo: Olivier Degoulange/Shutterstock/REX.
Models of color are getting fed up with Balenciaga's all-white runways. That's why they protested the brand's Paris Fashion Week show with signs reading "Black Models Matter" in French, BET reports.
The PFW roster was an improvement on Balenciaga's past shows, with four of the 47 outfits on Black models. But creative director Demna Gvasalia is facing another controversy. Casting director James Scully recently claimed the models were working under inhumane conditions. "On top of that, I have heard from several agents, some of whom are Black, that they have received mandate from Lanvin that they do not want to be presented with women of color," he wrote on Instagram.
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This isn't the first time the slogan "Black models matter" has been used. It was spotted on a tote bag at New York Fashion week back in 2015.
The fashion industry's diversity problem is by no means limited to Balenciaga, after all. Even New York City's most diverse modeling agencies had less than half non-white models in 2014, according to a study by The Fashion Spot.
The Fashion Spot has also found that under a quarter of models in fall 2016 fashion shows were non-white, and only about one fifth of models cast in spring 2016 ads were people of color.
Models themselves have noticed the lack of diversity on runways. "I really hope that casting directors and stylists don't think, We already have one Asian girl, two Black girls...it's enough, we don't need more," Estelle Chen told Refinery29 last year. "People shouldn't still think this way."
West African model Deddeh Howard echoed this sentiment in an Instagram shot of herself re-creating a photo that featured a white model. "What do you mean you already have two to five black models that looks like me?" she wrote. "Did you say the same thing to the 50-100 white models you have?"
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