Chanel hosted their Resort 2011 launch party yesterday and not one black model walked the runway. The lack of diversity was alarming.

The editor of NY Mag’s fashion blog, The Cut, Amy O’Dell first addressed the issue with her article, No Black Models Walked the Chanel Resort Show. Upon reading, I was frustrated, but not surprised to find Chanel, which stands alongside Dior, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton and Hermes as a premier fashion house, has not placed a black model in any of their 2011 show collections or campaigns.

When it comes to luxury labels embracing black female models, Jourdan Dunn and Joan Smalls stand out as the two token models of choice. Jourdan and Joan have scored lucrative cosmetic contracts (Jourdan for YSL Beauty, Joan for Estee Lauder); Jourdan appears in Burberry’s Spring 2011 ad and Joan has appeared in advertisements for Stella McCartney, Roberto Cavalli and Gucci.

While their accomplishments are great, they aren’t the only black female models in the business. Neither are Chanel Iman and Arlenis Sosa who are also seemingly the go-to girls for ad campaigns, runway shows and editorials for luxury brands. Even Sessilee Lopez has been noticeably absent from the bunch. And what about the array of diverse, uniquely beautiful, up-and-coming models? Are luxury labels neglecting them? And if so, why? Are they hesitant to cast black models as it may adversely affect ad dollars and consumer loyalty?

It’s a known fact that the modeling world is competitive and to that end, we’re grateful that models like Jeneil Williams, Oluchi Onweagba, Ajak Deng, Melodie Monrose and Rose Cordero are blazing the runways. Yet we need to see more models “embraced” by top luxury labels during fashion shows, in editorials and in advertisements as well.

-Jared Michael Lowe

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