A2 Week 12 | Final Post

The lack of racial diversity among models in the fashion industry imposes various Eurocentric ideologies on current beauty standards and trends. Aspirational designers with ‘far-reaching aesthetic influence’ need to understand their social responsibility and that their influence extends far from the runway (The Washington Post). Models are the public face of the fashion industry and are ‘responsible for embodying the anonymous ideal of the brand — its notion of beauty and desirability’ (The Washington Post). Essentially fashion houses have the power to assert and declare which ‘look’ is most beautiful this season. We must then question the affects of fashion houses neglecting to cast models of colour. In this past Fall/Winter season only 77.6% of models were white. While some designers will cast a ‘token’ model of colour, others simply neglect to cast any model who isn’t white. Demna Gvasalia, we’re looking at you.

Although Gvasalia is not the only designer who is guilty of a whitewashed runway, I have decided to focus my work of visual activism on him and his work at Vetements and Balenciaga. As a designer that has been deemed ‘revolutionary’ and ‘at the forefront of cool’, many critics have turned a blind eye to his shameful casting (Business of Fashion). Doreen Small, former vice president of Ford Models attempted to say that designers look for models with whom their customer can relate as an explanation for the current lack of diversity (Entwingle and Wissinger 185). However, this is an outdated view as there is more diversity among luxury fashion consumers than there ever has been, with the fastest growing market being the Middle East and Africa (Business of Fashion). Essentially designers send the message to their diverse customer base that they don’t see them as part of their world (NY Mag). The fashion world and the runway will always be a place of aspiration and dreams. That’s part of it’s appeal but it doesn’t mean it can’t embody a more racially diverse image.

The work I have created is designed to be the visual element of a social media campaign titled ‘Call out Casting’. The idea is that it puts the power in the hands of the people to ‘call out’ designers. The campaign consists of a square format graphic image with some text designed to fit the Instagram platform. The image is bold and graphic so as to grab the attention of those scrolling through Instagram. The illustration depicts four looks, two from Vetements and two from Balenciaga FW16. They are intended to be recognisable so as to draw attention to these brands in particular. The faces have been purposefully left blank so as to show the absence of minority identities on the runway. The image is able to be reposted by any Instagram user with an editable caption. Users have the option to tag specific designers in their post so as to gradually gain the designer’s attention as the campaign continues. ‘Visual Activism is the interaction of pixels and actions to make change’ (Mirzoeff 297). A hashtag accompanying the image allows the campaign to grow, spark discussion and ignite change.

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Shand, Rosa. Call Out Casting. 2016. Illustrator.
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Shand, Rosa. Call Out Casting. 2016. Illustrator. Design in situation

Resources:

“Why Isn’t the Fashion Industry More Diverse?” The Business of Fashion. N.p., 11 Oct. 2015. Web. 07 June 2016.

Givhan, Robin. “The Fashion World Is Keeping Stats on Runway Diversity, but What’s the Real Goal?” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 21 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 June 2016.

Hyland, Véronique. “Why Do Designers Get a ‘Cool-Kid’ Pass on Diversity?” The Cut. NY Mag, 7 Mar. 2016. Web. 8 June 2016.

Entwistle, Joanne, and Elizabeth Wissinger. Fashioning Models: Image, Text, and Industry. London: Berg, 2012. Print.

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A2 Week 12 Draft

The lack of racial diversity among models in the fashion industry imposes various ideological beliefs on current Eurocentric beauty standards and trends. Designers at the forefront of the fashion industry are viewed as aspirational with ‘far-reaching aesthetic influence’ (The Washington Post). High fashion designers need to understand their social responsibility and that their influence extends far from the runway. Models are the public face of the fashion industry and are ‘responsible for embodying the anonymous ideal of the brand — its notion of beauty and desirability’ (The Washington Post). Essentially fashion houses have the power to assert and declare which ‘look’ is most beautiful this season. We must then question the affects of fashion houses neglecting to cast models of colour. In this past Fall/Winter season only 77.6% of models were white. Some designers will cast a ‘token’ model of colour while others simply neglect to cast any model who isn’t white. Demna Gvasalia, we’re looking at you.

Although Gvasalia is not the only designer who is guilty of a whitewashed runway, I have decided to focus my work of visual activism on him and his work at Vetements and Balenciaga. As a designer that has been deemed ‘revolutionary’ and ‘at the forefront of cool’, many critics have turned a blind eye to his shameful casting (Business of Fashion). Doreen Small, former vice president of Ford Models attempted to say that designers look for models with whom their customer can relate as an explanation for the current lack of diversity (Entwingle and Wissinger 185). However, this is not the case as there is more diversity among luxury fashion consumers than there ever has been with the fastest growing market being the Middle East and Africa (Business of Fashion). Essentially the message being sent to the diverse world of consumers of luxury fashion by designers is, as casting director James Scully says, that ‘you don’t see them in your world’ (NY Mag). The fashion world and the runway will always be a place of aspiration and dreams. That’s part of it’s appeal but it doesn’t mean it can’t embody a more racially diverse image.

The work I have created is designed to be the visual element of a social media campaign titled ‘Call out Casting’. The idea is that it puts the power in the hands of the people. The campaign consists of a square format graphic image with some text designed to fit the Instagram platform. The image is bold and graphic so as to grab the attention of those scrolling through Instagram. The graphic illustration in the top left corner consists of 3 looks, two from Vetements and one from Balenciaga. They are intended to be recognisable so as to draw attention to these brands in particular. The image is able to be reposted by any Instagram user with an editable caption. Users have the option to tag specific designers in their post so as to gradually gain the designer’s attention as the campaign continues.

http://www.businessoffashion.com/community/voices/discussions/why-isnt-the-fashion-industry-more-diverse

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2016/03/21/the-fashion-world-is-keeping-stats-on-runway-diversity-but-whats-the-real-goal/

NY Mag

Fashioning Models: Image, Text and Industry

A3 Week 11

After doing further research on the issue of the lack of racial diversity among models in the fashion industry I have decided to narrow my focus down to the casting of Vetements designer and Balenciaga artistic director Demna Gvasalia’s shows. This designer has gained a lot of attention recently for his work and has been described as ‘revolutionary’ by critics (Business of Fashion). However, the casting of both his shows this Fall ’16 season consisted of solely white models. As a brand that draws inspiration from urban youth culture, this as casting director James Scully says: ‘must feel like a slap to all of the people of color who line up to buy your clothes that your message to them [is that] you don’t see them in your world’ (NY Mag).

As fashion is a form of art, we have to analyse the messages that these aspirational brands convey and the ideologies they support through their work. It is critical to understand that these brands have the power to impose certain ideologies and standards of ‘beauty’. These messages filter down from the front row to fans of the brands to customers to blogs and magazines and to fast fashion stores affecting those at all stages. Gvasalia however, does not seem to understand his potential to influence and his social responsibility. “Well, I thought at a time when Donald Trump might be a President of the United States that I, a clothes maker, have to make political statement about ethnic diversity is funny” (Gvasalia as quoted by Telegraph UK).

Upon reflecting on this comment I have decided that I will create an art work that draws attention to the Vetements brand. This is a brand that is known for their current, cool and edgy streetwear aesthetic. I will play with their recognisable, distinct silhouettes and create digital collages that raise awareness of the lack of racial diversity in their casting. The works I make are what I would imagine would accompany a theoretical social media campaign with a hashtag along the lines of #boycottvetements. The campaign would approach social media influencers to help spread the message on instagram – a platform so critical in the fashion industry right now. In deciding this I have made myself a brief of sorts. There should be a series of at least four works. They should be recognisable as being associated with Vetements without plagiarising. They should be Guerilla style to make a statement about how the lack of diversity from a designer with such an influence at the moment is unacceptable.

I have looked at other successful social media campaigns such as #LastSelfie and #FreeTheNipple to see how I could theoretically use instagram as the platform to share my work. I also researched the work of Naomi Campbell, Iman and Bethann Hardison who’s campaign ‘Balanced Diversity’ was successful in publicly chastising designers for their white washed runways. Iman, an incredibly successful black model ‘redefined popular conceptions of black beauty’ (Koda and Yohannen 104). She asserted that black women should not stand in the shadows of Eurocentric beauty standards (Koda and Yohannen 104). The campaign ‘awakened a lot of designers to their subconscious prejudices’ (The Washington Post). As this method of activism of publicly shaming or calling out specific designers seems to have been successful in the past I will continue along this path with my final work.

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Shand, Rosa. Vetements Sketches. 2016. Illustrator.

These are some illustrator sketches of Vetements F/W 16 collection that I will use in my final work.

References:

Campbell, Jason. “Op-Ed | Whites-Only Policy at Vetements and Balenciaga.” The Business of Fashion. N.p., 08 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 June 2016.

Finnigan, Kate. “Demna Gvasalia on Race, That DHL T-shirt and Why He Wouldn’t Pay for His Own Designs.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 18 May 2016. Web. 07 June 2016.

Givhan, Robin. “The Fashion World Is Keeping Stats on Runway Diversity, but What’s the Real Goal?” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 21 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 June 2016.

Hyland, Véronique. “Why Do Designers Get a ‘Cool-Kid’ Pass on Diversity?”The Cut. NY Mag, 7 Mar. 2016. Web. 8 June 2016.

Koda, Harold, and Kohle Yohannan. The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009. Print.