Tuesday, January 6, 2015

MODEL DIVERSITY IN CATWALK SOCIETY

Re-enactment of Backstage - Louis Vuitton 2015 Runway (Source: internet)
              Fashion and modeling has been co-existing in our culture longer than the life of our ancestors. The bias of white models was engraved so deeply in the mindset of designers, casting directors and others. What we talk about is a culture, a social trend, a value and a perception of arts. As a fact, fashion designers and casting directors are the main forces that created and established the culture of fashion. Allegedly, they are blamed to be the reason behind the lack of model diversity. As reported, fashion designers are using excuses such as “you’re very strict on your collection and have a vision, it’s pretty difficult to accept someone who is far from your idea of the woman wearing your clothes” (Victoria Lin, "Race and the Runway” – Arts, The Harvard Crimson). This is how they usually say to hide their true intention of biasing Caucasian models for decades. Undeniably, our fashion industry continues showing that bias toward white models and a lack of diversity – reflecting through many angels such as modeling policies, casting process and fashion designers’/casting directors’ preferences. Yet this issue will remain the same until the Diversity Coalition can find its way to persuade the people to change and improve the casting system.

D&G 2015 Runway (Source: internet)
            Since the beginning, catwalk society has always been dominated by the “waifish aesthetic prominence.” Looking back to six years ago, 87% of models walked in runway were Caucasian. Before the revolutionary effect of black icons Iman, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, the number was even worse. On a recent analytical Jezebel report, it shows almost 80% of the look (4,621 outfits) was worn by white models. There were only 985 were worn by models of color during the 148 shows in NYFW Fall/Winter 2014. According to LeeAnn - a writer from The Refinery29, she said: “New York runways were the most racially diverse — with "only" 79% of its runway models being white. For a deeply multicultural city like New York (where just under 44% of the population is white, according to a 2013 American Community Survey), these are obviously disappointing statistics” (LeeAnn, "Sadly Not Shocking: Fashion Still Bad At Diversity", The Refinery29). On a particular case, Jazebel reported Valentino had almost 96% white models walked for his show (41 girls out of 43 girls are Caucasian). The same result goes to Victoria Beckham, Haider Ackermann, The Row, Paul & Joe. Those are the shows that had the less models of color walked for them (only 4%-4.8%). These impressive numbers once again show the catwalk diversity still remaining white faces’ dominance. Strangely, it doesn’t reflect the world that is getting more transparent and diversifying among races.
Valentino 2015 Runway (Source: internet)
            From a starting point, models of all colors/origins work under model agencies and under the same modeling policy. However, despite the simple fact that every model goes through the same casting process, the key decision falls into the hands of casting directors. On “Race and the Runway” article, Victoria Lin said “Casting directors continue to dismiss and rationalize the lack of racial diversity on runways and in major brand campaigns” (Victoria Lin, "Race and the Runway” – Arts, The Harvard Crimson). Whether a model received a cast call or received an “okay”, it is up to casting directors to deliver a final call. In addition, Lin also said “The root cause of the underrepresentation of models of color ultimately appears to lie in the “race-blind” mindset behind the casting decisions that result in majority-white catwalks and advertising campaigns.”
Victoria Beckham 2015 Runway (Source: internet)
            Additionally, fashion designers still remain a total bias toward white face models. Designers are tend to not “making distinctions based on skin color” but intently “paved the way for excuses of casting directors” to refuse casting models of color in a make-sense/humanism way. It is criticized as an alternative way of saying “a dark skinned model doesn’t work with our vision” and it also allows designers to “pass over models of color in the name of aesthetics.” Furthermore, Lin wrote in her article that casting director Leila Anna shared her perception of “a show needs to make you dream, and it doesn’t necessarily need to represent reality”. It is interpreted by Lin as “a vision or dream, is one in which people of color are not present.” From this point of view, it is obvious to see that the models of color have been staying under disadvantage situation for years due to the bias of fashion designers and casting directors. Hence, this controversial bias is considered as one of the critical cause that builds the harsh reality of model diversity.
Calvin Klein 2015 Runway (Source: internet)

            On the other side of the front line, Diversity Coalition was born as the savior of models of color. With the mission to change this harsh reality, Diversity Coalition has been established a strong and provocative “fighting” strategy. As a founder and an active representative of the Diversity Coalition, Bethann Hardison, the winner of “CFDA Award” proudly adopted a new slogan: “Activism needs to remain active.” She was once the first model of color in her generation to appear on “Grand Divertissement à Versailles” with Pat Cleveland and Alva Chinn in 1973. She was also a casting director who discovered famous colored faces such as Veronica Webb, Roshumba Williams and Tyson Beckford. Back in the days when she was still working with her modeling agency, Ms Hardison said to “inclined to press the point when designers where disinclined to at least consider any but white models”. Even though many decades have passed, she continues to show her never-ending battle against “the lack of diversity on fashion’s runways”. Recently, Matthew Schneier, a writer from New York Times said “Ms Hardison has been consistently published open letters to the directors of the CFDA and analogous bodies in Lodon, Milan and Paris, naming those designers who runway shows included no or only one token model of color.” It works. The numbers of colored models walked in the season had improved (such as Céline show had four models of color compared to last season it had none). The Diversity Coalition’s goal is not to bring 50-50 in number but to “catch up a little bit”. With an endless effort, in a statistic summary during 16 NY shows received critiqued for lack of model diversity last fall - the Diversity Coalition reported a greatest improvement from Calvin Klein house, Narciso Rodriquez and The Row’s house. Each of them has 4 models of color compared to none in the previous season. Also, a document content six guidelines for racial diversity is conducted by Diversity Coalition to [hopefully] improve the racial diversity in decision-making during casting time. In a great effort, the Diversity Coalition has submitted the guidelines to Diane von Furstenberg – the president and Steven Kolb - the chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). Looking on a bright side, the casting director and fashion designers will have no choice but to change their “dominant rule” to a more fair-play option once the guidelines are officially circulated as a principle document to follow.
Marc Jacob 2015 Runway (Source: internet)
            In fact, we are living in a “flat” world where everyone from different ethnicities and nations of origin works together to achieve the same goals and establishments. Although diversity continues showing its unstoppable trend in many workplaces across all nations and organizations, catwalk society refuses to change. The fashion industry still obviously shows great bias toward white models and a lack of diversity. Once again, the same question is asked: “Will the Diversity Coalition succeed its mission to bring equality of races into its realm in the next 10 years?”

Works Cited
Duggan, LeeAnn. "Sadly Not Shocking: Fashion Still Bad At Diversity." Refinery29.         Refinery29, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
Schneier, Matthew. "Walking the Walk to Increase Diversity." The New York Times. The New     York Times, 15 Mar. 2014. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
Dries, Kate. "New York Fashion Week Was Chock-Full of White Models Again." Jezebel.            Jezebel, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
Lin, Victoria. "Race and the Runway." The Harvard Crimson, n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2014
Feitelberg, Rosemary. "Progress Seen in Model Diversity." WWD. WWD, 4 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
Wilson, Julee. "Bethann Hardison Continues Push For Racial Diversity On The Runway, Sends   New Letter." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cobalt is the new black

What more to feel wearing a cobalt coat on a day when I have the finals? absolutely mood lifting and it does chase away the loomy and anxious feeling i'm bearing over the last week. 

Cobalt and its brightness is definitely my new black <3

F21 white lace dress, F21 cobalt single button coat, Zara Basic ankle trap shoes, H&M fedora


Saturday, November 22, 2014

21? Forever 21!

I thought over-knee socks aren't belonged to petite people with "short legs". This thing wasn't an item on my checklist ever, until recently I shopped at a F21 store and fell in love with the socks. Well, I gave it a try and surprisingly it did look okay on me. Combined with a short shorts and oversized sweater plus baseball jacket, all in dark colors with a little focus on white: a tip for "petite" girls to "rock & roll" the not-so-fit outfit!



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Critical Thinking: “Is the fashion industry continuing to show a bias toward white models and a lack of diversity?”


(Source: Internet. Picture taken during Dolce & Gabbana fashion clearly showed the overwhelm of white models in number compared to other races)

Since the early era of fashion industry, the catwalk society has been dominated by white models. Allegedly, Russia, Ukraine, Europe and North America are considered as the birthplaces of majority of international models. Some of them are recognized worldwide as legendary supermodel of the 90’s such as Heidi Klum, Helena Christensen, Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer, Kristen McMenamy and Eva Herzigová. On catwalk or during advertising campaign – on magazines or on promotion banners, what the public usually saw at that time - was the intensified appearances of white models in almost every product. However, the trend of modeling started to shift to a more diversified form when the fashion world was shaken up by the powerful appearance of supermodel Naomi Campbell in the late 90s. Naomi Campbell was the first black model to appear on fashion magazines and was considered as the new “wind of change” that pushed the fashion industry to finally take a better look at the other race models. Since then, a new era of fashion modeling has opened up and provided opportunities to both designers and colored models to collaborate for a change of diversity, uniqueness and creativeness. There are colored models that appeared side by side with other white colleagues in advertising campaign. They also appeared in magazines, representing fashion lines, being front face for different products and even achieved great success in their careers (such as Tyra Banks, Jordan Dunn, Liu Wen, etc…). Still, it didn’t bring enough sufficiency to break through the hard reality of modeling – the fashion society continues to bias the white models over colored models. A lot of talented young colored models are reportedly struggled with casting issues. On the other hand, researchers have been providing some positive statistic number such as the percentage of white models walking in the NY Fashion Week 2014 dropped from 87% to 78% compared to an increase from 8% to 18% of colored models. It’s true that we clearly see a slight improvement of diversity; but nevertheless, there is still doubt. My objectives of conducting this research is to completely gain a better understanding of the issue and to identify the solutions that colored models have been using to fight for their dreams and rights.

In order to start finding and selecting sources to support my thesis, I wrote down the thesis question as the core issue and develop 10 facets to help me categorize/filter the massive information into smaller but well-organized categories. These below facets are considered as the secondary issues that could be contributed greatly to the lack of diversity of modeling. They are:

  • Designers tend to prefer white faces representing their lines
  • Differences in physical body type and size between white models and black models
  • Recognition and success in modeling have been dominated by white faces since the beginning of its history
  • Issue of equality in paycheck between white models and other races
  • Brand associations and endorsements prefer using white models
  • The population of models is dominated by Caucasian
  • Alleged media/public discrimination toward black models
  • The establishment of Diversity Coalition to improve model diversity
  • Casting process, do casting directors favor white models?
  • Consumers’ insights, do mass consumers accept color models representing their favorite brands?
Basing on these facets, I will utilize the online library and subscription database of FIDM to conduct my research. On a secondary level, textbook and fashion magazines are also the sources that I will go look for facts and opinions to add extra value to my work. A complete research will consist of insightful controversial topics and objective analysis that relating to the core issue.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Marc Jacobs - The Man of Honor

Marc Jacob
The Man of Honor







 “I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect - they are much more interesting.”

- Marc Jacobs


Marc Jacob, highly renowned name in the global fashion industry and the prodigy fashion designer of the 21st century, has always been in the centered spotlight of the world since the very first day of his career pathway. Looking back to his family history, Marc Jacob was born into a non-observant Jewish family in New York City, in 1963. He was then moved to live with his grandmother in the downtown of Manhattan, where he said it was the best change of his life. There was never a “NO” from his grandmother toward what he wanted to do or who he truly wanted to be. Going to the famous arts school Parsons School of Design, Marc Jacobs started to build the first chapter of his infamous fashion career. In a parallel manner and by that moment, the world also started to witness a young fashion prodigy being born, arisen and remained in the amazing spotlight for many years until present.

Indeed, Marc Jacob is a true genius and he possesses an incredible talent. At the age of 21 and in his last year at school, he was honored with the most three notable awards Design Student of the Year, the Perry Ellis Gold Thimble Award and the Chester Weinberg Gold Thimble Award. Soon later, he became the youngest designer in history who won the Council of Fashion Designers of America Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent in 1987. And that was far beyond any expectation of anybody. During that time, Marc Jacob was successfully launched his first label Marc Jacobs which mainly focus on high-end designer clothes. The line was quickly become one of the top favorite rising luxury fashion label, chosen by a large number of fashion designers, innovators, fashion editors and others. The unstoppable rising popularity of Marc Jacob led to a “surprising encounter” with Anne Wintour – the most powerful editor in chief of American Vogue. Marc Jacob and Anne Wintour became friends; and amazingly, their friendship has been lasting for almost 2 decades.

Nevertheless, the most fabulous turning point in Marc Jacobs’ career were not about his line that Marc Jacob launched but at the appointment to become the world famous Louis Vuitton’s creative director. At that remarkable career stage, Marc Jacobs became the youngest creative director that had ever worked for this worldwide recognized premium and luxury brand. During Marc Jacob’s empire, the old and traditional image of Louis Vuitton was transformed into a dynamic and versatile image. The value of the brand and the global revenue was expanded triple time compared to its old one.

One of his outstanding achievements was to marry haute couture to prêt-à-porter. Marc Jacobs’s philosophy and interest are always about the beauty of imperfection. Hence, he took the vanity, luxury and exquisite characteristics of haute couture and absorbed them into the ready-to-wear framework. It was a daring move; consider the long existing notable philosophy of haute couture in contrast with the ordinary and convenient philosophy of ready-to-wear. However, to the world’s surprise, it worked extremely well under the magnificent mind and magic hands of Marc Jacobs. Looking back to his Spring 2013 collection (my favorite ready-to-wear collection of Marc Jacobs), he once again made the fashion world shaken up by combining a variety of ready-to-wear and haute couture elements such as the vibration of bold colors, the simplicity of clothing style, the gorgeous and notable Oriental accessories, the chic vibe, the exquisite and well-made materials into a perfect classy, sophisticated, elegant yet exotic outfits.

 




          Since his first debut in the fashion world, Marc Jacob has been considered as a fashion prodigy and an irreplaceable genius that the whole world can’t help but keeping following his footsteps. His remarkable talent that contributed to the world of fashion is exceptional. His designs became inspiring role models for many other designers, fashion editors, fashion photographers and others to study. His influence in the global fashion industry is, no doubt, powerful and dynamic. His hard-working attitude, clever business mindset and incredible energy have put him at one of the top designers in the 21st century. With his enormous contribution and extraordinary talent, Marc Jacob is spectacularly considered as one of the most honorable men in the world. And to me, yes, he really is.






  

Friday, September 5, 2014

One of a Kind: THE GIRL WITH THE RED LIPSTICK

Looking back to the time I came to FIDM during the Orientation Day, I was surprised to know there were not many Asian like me in school. While carrying that thought, a pretty girl with fair skin and beautiful long dark hair caught my eyes from a distance. I came forward and kind of checked her out. Since the first quarter started, this pretty young girl has been coincidently in the same Writing Skills class with me. I had my opportunity to chat with her. I do love her fashion style so I decided to make a little talk of her on my blog.

Han Le is a very inspiring girl. She has just graduated from high school but I bet you will be surprised seeing her fashion drawings and sketches. From what I learnt from Han, she has been living in the U.S for 5 years. She loves drawing and she enjoys spending time sitting in the classical and retro café. I guess it helps inspiring her ideas and conceptual thoughts. Despite being young, Han has a very clear vision of what she wants to do in the future. She pursues her dream to become a fashion designer who has her own fashion line. Han has a very fresh and casual chic style. Her fashion sense is all about sophistication and minimalism. “Less is More” is her motto. As a loyal fan of fast-fashion, her favorite brands are no other than Zara, H&M and Mango. And to match with her casual chic style, Han wear it with the Chanel red lipstick. She told me the red lipstick is to reinforce her sophisticated look.

I am very lucky to be able to capture her look today. She surprised me by showing how good she expressed herself in front of the camera. I feel like I suddenly found a new muse for my fashion shoot. (devil laughing)


So long with my “bla bla”, I’m gonna stop here because I believe these photos do a better talk than mine (lol). I hope after a long hiatus with my blog, this little writing here will bring you something new to read. And to Han, I wish you all the best luck with your dream! Study hard, try hard and you shall be a young, passionate “going-to-be” fashion designer soon! Live on dreaming!

Printed over-size top by Zara, lace cotton short by H&M, metal color flat sandals by Zara, shoulder bag by Louise Vuitton.    


Sexy black lace short is definitely gives a bonus point!




Little box of Han's favorites:

  •  Chanel red lipstick
  • Black color
  •  Zara flat shoes
  • Black long sexy hair
  • Christian Dior and Coco Chanel are her idols