Zac Posen Makes An Important Statement by Casting Models of Color Almost Exclusively
The fight for more diversity on Fashion Week runways, led by former model Bethann Hardison and voiced by many others, has been a long one; and year after year, the improvements made are marginal at best. Maybe a designer casts a couple of non-white models instead of zero.
But this season, with some exceptions of course, we’ve noticed an actual change. The mostly black casting — including OG supermodels Naomi Campbell and Veronica Webb — was probably the best thing about Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 show, and Rihanna, Sophie Theallet and Chromat’s Becca McCharen have all contributed to an increase in non-white models on the runways at New York Fashion Week. But the strongest statement so far was made by Zac Posen, whose model lineup on Monday night was comprised almost entirely of gorgeous models of color like Aya Jones, Aamito Lagum, Cindy Bruna, Riley Montana and Grace Bol.
Interestingly, the show was cast by Maida & Rami, an agency that has been criticized in the past for the lack of diversity in its model choices on big name runways like Jil Sander, Christian Dior and Raf Simons.
Posen was inspired by Princess Elizabeth of Toro, a Ugandan lawyer who became the first East African woman to be admitted to the English bar. She was also a successful model and covered American Vogue in 1968, and was briefly the foreign minister of Uganda in the 1970s. Black or white, she was an accomplished and beautiful woman — a perfect point of inspiration for a fashion designer. In his show notes, Posen noted her “kind nature, stunning appearance and exceptional intellect.”