Paris Fashion Week ended with a historic finale. On Wednesday, Nicolas Ghesquière presented his spring 2018 collection for Louis Vuitton with a Black woman leading the charge. It was the first time in the luxury brand's 163-year history that the show opened with an African American model.
The model, Janaye Furman, is a Southern California drama student who, after being discovered during a class performance, made her runway debut last season for Proenza Schouler. According to Vogue, Furman was tapped by casting director Ashley Brokaw to walk in Vuitton’s fall 2017 show as well, kicking off a fruitful relationship that led to Furman becoming a regular in the French fashion house’s editorials and ad campaigns. Obviously, Furman was elated to receive such an honor.
“What a blessing!! Wow! This is such an incredible and unbelievable moment!” the 21-year-old wrote on Instagram, captioning a photo of herself opening the Vuitton runway. “Not only for my first opening show to be Louis Vuitton but to make history as the first African American girl to open LV?!!” She thanked the brand, Ghesquière, the show’s stylist, Marie-Amélie Sauvé, and its hair and makeup team, Paul Hanlon and Pat McGrath, before continuing: “Thank you to absolutely every person involved. Thank you God and everyone for all of the amazing support! I'm so glad more women of color are rocking the runways. It's so important that we stand up for ourselves and make a difference in this world. I'm so happy I was able to tell this beautiful story. I mean look at that coat! #louisvuitton is always #major.”
As exciting as this moment is for Furman, it's also a reminder of how far the industry still has to go when it comes to diversity and inclusivity. Let's hope Vuitton's move to put Furman at the head of the pack will show other designers just how important it is to not just feature models of color, but put them front and center.