Models on London Runways Aren’t Only 19 Years Old, 107 Pounds, and White

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Spring 2010 looks by Mark Fast (left) and PPQ. Photo: Getty Images, Imaxtree

British Elle's website heralds London Fashion Week for embracing diversity on the runways this season — and not just in terms of race. PPQ showed its spring 2010 collection on a cast of entirely black models; Mark Fast cast a whopping three "average size" models, one of whom even opened his 30-look show; and the Sykes collection included a cast of models ranging in ages of up to 70. Designers like Carlos Campos have cast only black models for past runway shows, as debates about diversity on the runways reached a fever pitch. However, critics question diversity for the sake of diversity. Naomi Campbell doubts the lasting effect of efforts like these, particularly the much-buzzed-about all-black Italian Vogue.

Older models have also enjoyed time in the fashion spotlight on the runways of Yohji Yamamoto, Ann Demeulemeester, and agnès b. There has perhaps been less of an effort in the recent past to cast models who aren't jaw-droppingly thin. Rumor has it, Mark Fast decided last-minute to include the curvier models in his show, prompting his stylist and casting director to walk out. Maybe they walk the streets with blindfolds on every day, refusing to believe women come in sizes other than zero and heights other than five foot eleven.

It's too bad models of all shapes, ages, and ethnicities aren't the norm for most fashion shows. Models who are white, 110 pounds, and five foot eleven only make up a minuscule percentage of people buying clothes these days. And wouldn't the work of a truly great designer look great on all kinds of people? At least PPQ, Mark Fast, and Sykes are enjoying an extra bit of publicity, which is especially important in These Times.

London embraces diversity on the catwalk [Elle UK]