Men’s Runways in Milan Still Whitewashed

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The Gianfranco Ferre show. Photo: Getty Images

On the day we inaugurate our first African American president, this is ironic: In Milan, not a single black, Asian, or Latino model walked the runways of Jil Sander, Missoni, Burberry, Trussardi, Bottega Veneta, Gianfranco Ferré, Roberto Cavalli, or Prada. The Emporio Armani and Versace shows notably included black models. Gucci designer Frida Giannini said she is "always looking for black models, or even Chinese or whatever, for the shows,” but agencies always send her the same crop of white guys. Her show featured an entirely white cast. But an owner of New York modeling agency Red said he sent over several black models he thought would do well (they didn't). The New York Times reports:

“Maybe they think it’s too obvious” to feature an ethnically inclusive runway casting in the week of Barack Obama’s inauguration, Franca Sozzani, the Vogue Italia editor, said of designers. “It has nothing to do with a racist attitude,” the editor insisted ...


Not only are the whitewashed runways ironic in light of the inauguration, but this is the same country that gave us the historic all-black Italian Vogue just months ago. Though we adore Franca, who's done some incredible work to call attention to this issue, we must question her here — why shouldn't designers be obvious? The all-black Vogue was not only "obvious," but a smash hit. People wouldn't cast off an all-black runway show because it signified the designer tried too hard to include blacks. They'd cheer and clap like the people at the inauguration this morning. Bloggers like us would reference it for months afterward. What designer wouldn't love that? On days like today, there is no such thing as overkill. Which is why our next post is probably going to be about Michelle's dress.

In Milan, Models Still Come in Only One Color [NYT]