By Kagan Taylor
The prominent New York Fashion Week is scheduled to take place February 2012. Along the runways , long-legged women with a nude lip will strut their couture hoofs upon the cold yet poised catwalk. Ripping the runway may seem to have quite particular requisites. Despite the fact, color is still a factor.
As I skim through the latest of fashion editorials and watch designers’ fashion show clips, one thing that sticks out for me is the lack of colored models. The multi-billion dollar industry decides not only what we wear but what we consider as beauty. Yes, many models are exotic but it is not very common to see a large spectrum on ethnicities on the runway. Countless women of every color has broke into the industry presenting another beauty that is beyond the usual.
Beverly Johnson, Donyale Luna, and Naomi Sims has paved the way for black women while Christy Turlington and Taliso Soto placed a stepping stone for Hispanic women. Nevertheless, Anna Bayle and Liu Wen gave Asian women hope. However, it is highly unlikely that we can watch the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and see someone who looks like you or has the same skin color as you.
Seeing the “lack of black” sometimes makes us black women question our beauty simply because our looks are not featured regularly in some of the most popular fashion magazines. Not too long ago did New York Fashion Week included 100% percent white women. There has been a 20-percent increase since then. On the other hand, fashion designers have quoted that they still want a “white girl dipped in chocolate”.
At this point of time we are in, you would think that skin color would not determine an aspiring model’s ability to gain a contract in the country of America. Many women of color now have to go overseas to find modeling work. Ophelia Devore, a black model, was able to gain contracts in Europe because she could pass for Norwegian. Now in America , black women may not be appreciated much . However in France, many Black women such as Norma Jean Darden, Alva Chin, Charlene Dash, Bethann Hardison was able to get their shine on working for the greats Yves St. Laurent, Givenchy, and the Christian Dior . Opportunity should be available right here at home. It is up to us to not only bend the barriers but to really break them. Beauty is beyond the commercial eye.
Reflecting on the ones who paved the way gave me a new prospect on the fashion industry. Completely clearing the path will allow more black women and even men to look beyond the prejudice and glamour and face the facts. It is time for a new point of view at this shortage of color. If women of all ethnicities are not wanted in runway shows, editorials, or model agencies, I think it is time to regain what is deserved. So lets stop talking about what we should have and do it ourselves.
Studies show that black women spend a hefty amount of $30 billion per year in the fashion industry. That is enough for us to be reflected in the business. Zac Posen or Marc Jacobs does not owe us anything. They are just doing their job which is leading their own fashion domain. Why can’t we do the same? Gracing the spread of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar may not seem like an easy task yet it is quite possible. We have all the resources from Ebony to our very own Tracy Reese in the world to build our own fashion empire accepting women and even men of all races, ethnicities , and colors. Taking the initiative is the first step of conquering the fight–a fierce fight.