French Designer Accused of Racist Casting Just Showed a 90 Percent White Runway
During Paris Fashion Week, design house Lanvin presented its fall/winter 2017 collection, featuring delicate silks evoking “ballerina black tie,” according to New York Times fashion director Vanessa Friedman. But praise for the collection was clouded in criticism — not of the clothing, but of who wore it.
Amid harsh criticism by veteran casting director James Scully, who accused Lanvin‘s team of excluding diverse models, the house presented a collection in which four of 44 models were nonwhite, among them Yue Han, Luping Wang, Joan Smalls, and Alicia Burke.
The 90 percent white casting is consistent with Lanvin’s previous womenswear lineups, but when compared to the aggregate of designers who show during Paris Fashion Week, that stat is especially stark. Last year, 24 percent of the models cast in all the Parisian runway shows were nonwhite, more than double the 10 percent cast in the Lanvin show.
Regarding Lanvin, Scully wrote: “I have heard from several agents, some of whom are black that they have received mandate from Lanvin that they do not want to be presented with women of color.”
Twitter users who watched the show were quick to criticize the fashion house.
ONE black model in the lanvin show that's embarrassing
— j (@gucciandior) March 1, 2017
Lanvin had one black model, one Puerto Rican (Joan Smalls) and two Asians. All the rest white.
— Mickey Boardman (@AskMrMickey) March 1, 2017
@AskMrMickey the brand "the claims are unfounded" the runway "nah, here are the receipts" truly such a shame.
— Julia Chesky (@juliachesky) March 1, 2017
When Yahoo Style reached out to Lanvin for comment on the show’s casting, a spokesperson reiterated the comments provided to address Scully’s original accusation: “These allegations are completely false and baseless.”
While Paris-based designers are notorious for casting shows with few nonwhite models, they’ve also made considerable strides in the last few years, especially relative to their counterparts in Milan. And at New York Fashion Week, designers made “landmark gains” in terms of casting diversity, though there’s room for improvement according to the Fashion Spot, which has tracked runway diversity since October 2014.
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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style and Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.