We complain tirelessly about the lack of diversity in fashion. But could that lack be something we have to deal with because makeup artists and hair stylists don’t know what to do with models who aren’t white? Supermodel Jourdan Dunn seems to think that might be the case.
The 21-year-old British model, who has been the face of Burberry, a Victoria’s Secret Angel and in 2008 became the first Black model to walk a Prada runway in over a decade, tweeted the following:
Dunn walked in two shows in Paris on the 3rd, Emanuel Ungaro at 11 am and Giambattista Valli, which was scheduled for 1:30 pm. This tweet came through at 7:19 am EST, so whatever issues she was having backstage must have happened around or before 1:19 Paris time. Which means someone backstage at the Valli show is probably to blame for her being pissed enough to tweet. (Although we wouldn’t be surprised if someone at Ungaro was a contributing factor.)
And that’s because it wasn’t all that long ago that there really were only two big-name black models on the world’s runways (Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, natch), and we seem to remember one of them complaining about how there was only one shade of base coat that makeup artists had in their kits to use on dark-skinned models. With the arrival of more Black makeup artists like Pat McGrath, who is the undisputed queen of making runway models look fierce no matter what their skin color, we don’t doubt this is changing. But given that the overwhelming majority of women who come down the runway are still white, we also don’t doubt that change is slow.
And because the majority of those women aren’t Black, it wouldn’t come as a total surprise to us if none of them have worked on Black hair before. So we also wouldn’t be surprised if, as a result, casting directors and show producers don’t make a point of making sure their hair stylists can actually do Black hair on the rare occasion that they cast non-white models.
But as we’ve discussed, diversity on the runway is important. And while Dunn’s comment is succinct, it only points out the fact that diversity isn’t just going to happen on its own. Designers, casting directors, modeling agencies and everyone involved with how we present fashion is going to have to make a conscious decision not only to include women who aren’t Black in the process, but to be just as accommodating to them as they are to their white talent.