September’s New York Fashion Week reflected growing industry attention to diversity and social issues.
This season, discussions about diversity have been especially prominent at New York Fashion Week. Prior to the shows, the CFDA emailed all members advising them to “encourage the industry to be inclusive of racial diversity when preparing casting of models for their company needs,” WWD reported. Show organizers must request models of color from agencies, the email said, and if agencies fail to comply “they have to have an assistant or someone call back.”
Elsewhere, shows took the opportunity this year to tie fashion to social good. At FTL Moda’s opening show, acid attack survivor Reshma Quereshmi led the day’s lineup, walking in her first-ever runway show for Indian designer Archana Kochhar. FTL Moda, a fashion show/editorial production company, teamed up with the Global Disability Inclusion for #TakeBeautyBack, a series of shows that featured models with disabilities.
“We are working to create a world where acids used in these attacks are unavailable to the public,” said show producer Ilaria Niccolini. “Our September appointments will hopefully contribute to ending this inhumane practice, and creating greater acceptance of all diversity.”
Quereshmi lost an eye and was severely scarred by an acid attack in 2014. Last year, she played a beauty vlogger in Beauty Tips by Reshma, a campaign that raised awareness about the occurrences of acid attacks in her country. The campaign, produced by Ogilvy Mumbai for nonprofit Make Love Not Scars, won a Glass Lion at the 2016 Cannes global advertising awards.
“Most of the time when people see the visual beauty, it’s magazine covers, it’s all about the perfection. But everybody knows there is a lot of tricks behind it,” explained Monica Singh, a fashion student and fellow acid attack survivor who attended the show. “Incorporating the girls like me or Reshma or anyone, it’s a sign that even fashion can support reality, and fashion understands the beauty inside us.”
The show closed with model Shaholly Ayers, modelling for German designer Sonja Tafelmeier. Ayers, born without a left forearm, was the first model to ever walk the runway without a prosthetic. Other models featured over the course of the show will include disability spokesmodel Kelly Knox and US Special Olympics gold medal athlete Chelsea Werner.
In recent years, runway shows have begun to feature more models with disabilities. Last year’s FTL Moda show featured models in wheelchairs. Last spring, Lauren Wasser made her New York Fashion Week debut walking for Chromat with a prosthetic leg, while model Jillian Mercado was tapped in March to model Beyoncé’s newest merchandise in a wheelchair.
Image courtesy of Associated Press.