The fashion industry’s no stranger to accusations about lack of diversity, and yet it seems they manage to constantly find ways to ignore the public’s call for greater representation. The latest offender is Versace, whose fall ’16 campaign starring Gigi Hadid and Karlie Kloss has attracted significant negative feedback across the Internet this week.
Shot in Chicago by Bruce Weber, this was Donatella Versace’s messy attempt to capture the “spirit of Chicago,” all while attempting to express the modernity of families today. A 21-year-old Gigi, who recently received criticism for wearing an afro on the cover of Vogue Italia, poses as a mother of two alongside black male model Marcus Watts and a dark-skinned baby that’s chained into a stroller.
— Divya Patel (@DivyaPatel_22) June 7, 2016
To successfully create an authentic representation of Chicago, why produce a campaign featuring people of color as a prop to a fair-skinned woman, and especially in a city where police brutality against minorities is on the rise? When asked about the location, Weber explained, “[Father Mike] was talking about politics and the need to restore old neighborhoods, and it made me think I wanted these pictures to mean something to the city.”
However, the photographer’s weak attempt fell short, failing to highlight any sort of political reality that Chicago itself faces, and instead glamorizing the lives of white models.
But is it really all that surprising for a luxury brand to alienate dark-skinned models of color when fashion campaigns were recently found to be 78% white? Not surprising—disappointing.
This unstoppable problem in fashion transcends race, spilling into representation as a whole. Photographer and model Serena Jara criticized Dazed & Confused this week for a similar issue, revealing how they published an article, but failed to credit any of the trans and non-binary people included.
Moving forward, it’d be nice to see the fashion industry actually absorbing the public’s criticism, rather than repeatedly making ignorant decisions despite such viral backlash. As spoken so eloquently by Queen Bey, “I encourage you to not forget this power that you have, or take it lightly. We have an opportunity to contribute to a society where any girl can look at a billboard or magazine cover and see her own reflection.”