This week, there has been a flurry of fashion news stories about the American singer-songwriter Erykah Badu being announced as the face of Givenchy’s Spring 2014 campaign. While this is great news for those who have been busily pointing out the lack of diversity in mainstream fashion imagery, it’s also a bit sad that it’s A Thing. I realise that getting to the point where skin colour is not an issue is going to take some time, but applauding every small step makes it seem like the people doing the casting have done something amazing when they should just be doing this as a regular part of their jobs.
I want to praise Givenchy and shout at other major fashion brands until they do the same, but they shouldn’t really have to be bullied into it. Casting models who are not white should just be something that they do without thinking. Which made me wonder… do they have to make an effort to change the industry in order to be more diverse, or do they just have to change their own ideas of beauty? I find it difficult to imagine that the models they get to choose from for catwalk shows and ad campaigns are always white, but I also realise that I have no first hand knowledge of this.
Matthew Schneier addresses this well in his piece for Style.com on the announcement, quoting Givenchy’s creative director Riccardo Tisci:
It’s true that Tisci has been active in promoting women of color on his runway and in his campaigns. Does he think the world will catch up to his lead? “I hope so,” he said. “It’s 2013. Everybody’s being so cool about Instagram, about Facebook, any media–everybody’s being so open. At the end of the day, why are not so many black girls or Latin girls in shows? When you have an American president who is black! When I see this happening, it’s quite sad, I think. People can be so avant-garde, so advanced, but actually not, because people are still making differences between skin color.”
Images via Style.com