Yesterday, during Max Azria‘s Herve Leger show, we tweeted the following: “Exactly one black model at Herve Leger.” It was an obvious observation, and itt turns out that we weren’t alone. Jenna Sauers of Jezebel, a site known for keeping tabs on runway and fashion diversity, asked Azria about his almost all-white cast after the show. His answer may surprise you.
At first Azria dodged the issue. “We love ethnic! …Don’t try to make a — no, we love ethnic people. Fifty percent of my company is ethnic.” But when Sauers pressed him on the diversity of his runway, Azria argued his casting depended on trend and what was available on the model “market.”
“Sometimes there are alot on the market, sometimes there are less,” he said. “And we never know why they are tall, why they are short…”
We’d like to take the opportunity posit that Azria’s casting wasn’t as unconscious as he claims. Aside from a few black looks, the overriding tones of yesterday’s show were blush, bone, a pale, pale minty green, the faintest of yellows, and silver — it was almost as though Azria’s intent was to make the entire show monochromatic, from clothing color to skin tone. (Also, for the sake of comparison, yesterday’s Dennis Basso show featured no less than eight black or asian models.)
It’s worth noting, as Sauers points out, this isn’t Azria’s first offense.
Since the Spring 2000 season, Azria has never booked more than three models of color in any single show — and many of his shows count more than 40 outfits. In fact, for a seven-season stretch in the middle of the decade, Azria hired an all-white cast for every single one of his shows. Since then, the diversity of Azria’s casting — and the diversity of the modeling industry in general — has hardly improved.
Sauers also sked him what he thought about diversity in the industry as a whole. And this is where the man’s media training comes in. The #1 rule: always be positive.
“I think I am the king of fashion in diversity. I am around the world and really we have no issue with it… In fact, it is the opposite: we have no issue!”
It’s definitely worth watching the video — transcribing Azria’s stuttering, jumpy response certainly doesn’t do it justice.