Progress Measured One Advert At A Time?
Jan 26 2016
Last April, I wrote a post on racial diversity in the fashion industry in which I suggested that progress on this front seemed to be more forthcoming from brand adverts and e-commerce sites like Net-A-Porter than mainstream fashion editorials in magazines like Vogue.
In that post, I sited as examples Liya Kebede for the Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2015 campaign and editorial content produced on Net-A-Porter's "The Edit". This time, what caught my eye is the Spring/Summer 2016 adverts for Chanel which feature Lineisy Montego. Incidentally, the nineteen year old also walked the Prada Fall/Winter 2015 show, only the third ever woman of color to do so after Naomi Campbell in 1993 and Jourdan Dunn in 2008.
Setting aside Prada's appalling runway diversity stats, the fact that Montego is featured in a Chanel campaign is significant. Chanel, like Dior and Prada, is the holy grail of advertising campaigns for aspiring models. While there is a context to the campaign which might account for the presence of a model of color (Lagerfeld shot it on location in Brooklyn presumably to give it an urban feel), it wasn't so long ago that context would have been overlooked in favor of a willowy white model all the same.
While critics might argue that Montego is relatively fair-skinned as far as women of color go (a point I don't disagree with), I maintain that this constitutes progress all the same. Our societies are increasingly diverse and brands have understood that displaying their wares on persons of colour makes sound commercial sense. Fashion editors like British Vogue's Alexandra Schulman who have been stubbornly resistant to the notion of diversity may want to take note. The winds have shifted.
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