Paris Fashion Week served up a lot more than next season’s looks. Outside of Balenciaga’s FW17 show, a group of young, Black models protested with signs reading "Black Models Matter." The protest comes in direct response to noted fashion designer Demna Gvasalia repeated use of an exclusively white roster of models at both his Vetements runway shows and previous seasons at Balenciaga.
Demna, who is creative director at the French fashion house, has also recently come under fire for abuse allegations at Balenciaga’s latest casting call. Claims of more than 150 girls left waiting for over three hours in a dark staircase without light while casting directors left to get lunch are circulating after esteemed casting director James Scully courageously put his peers on blast via Instagram. While Balenciaga immediately cut ties with those specific casting directors, it’s hard to believe that no one from the label itself held any responsibility on what went down.
Check out James Scully’s post below about the abuse allegations. He also mentions Lanvin for specifically not wanting “to be presented with women of color.”
Interestingly, this season it seems as though Deman and Balenciaga have had a change of heart on the whole diversity thing (conveniently after the casting drama) because four out of 47 looks featured Black models. While that’s not a huge leap, it’s a step in the right direction. And if industry insiders like James and models like Indi Irvin (pictured here), who opted to protest sans shirt although it's against Paris's strict no nudity policy, continue to fight the power, fashion can only get more colorful.