The fashion world’s lack of diversity is well known. Despite history-makers like Iman, Beverly Johnson, Naomi Sims, Peggy Dillard-Toone, and others paving the way in the ‘70s and ‘80s, since the seeming black model boom in the 1990s (Naomi, Tyra, Roshumba, Verionica Webb, Beverly Peeele, et. al), the industry hasn’t been too kind to sistas.
Of the four major fashion weeks earlier this season—New York, London, Paris, and Milan—nearly 90% of all models walking the runway were white.
The breakdown: 848 White models, 63 Black models, 59 Asian models, 20 Hispanic models, and 3 from the Middle East.
Which brings us to the latest, “Look! A black girl!” fashion news circling the web.
After 19-years of keeping their ad campaigns all-white (with an Asian woman sprinkled in for flavor), Prada finally cast a black (biracial) woman in one of its ads.
Kenyan-born, British-raised Malaika Firth is the first sista to snag a Prada ad since Naomi Campbell in 1994.
Let that sink in.
Though some are giving the Italian house props and wondering if this will signal a new, more inclusive era for Prada, I won’t hold my breath.
The fashion industry is one of contradictions. While it pats itself on the back for “all black editorials” and including black models in a show (After a brand has been publicly shamed, no less. Hello, Dior), it continues to literally prefer white skin while craving everyone’s dollars.
And while I’m happy for Firth–because, let’s face it, this could make her career–Prada should not and will not get any kudos from me for failing to recognize the beauty of black women (or all women for that matter) for nearly TWO DECADES.