The fashion industry is known for many wonderful things —artistic vision, creative genius, and constant innovation, to name a few. However, there is a darker side to the glamorous world of vogue. Last week, Dior chief designer, Juan Galliano reminded us of that fact.
The British designer was suspended from the French fashion house following his arrest over an anti-Semitic assault in a Parisian bar. After a video clip of him ranting racist remarks toward a group of Italian women surfaced, Dior announced that Galliano was fired. During his racially charge tirade, Galliano proclaimed, “I love Hitler… People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be f…ing gassed.” Although Galliano’s remarks have shocked the world I have to ask —
Are we shocked because he feels that way or because he openly expressed it?
Racism in the fashion industry is nothing new. From the lack of models of color on the runways to the lack of designers of color with full spreads in magazines, these are blatant indications that color in fashion is primarily reserved for clothes. Despite dominating the runway for over 20 years, Naomi Campbell still suffers from the burn of racism within the industry. Andre Leon Talley, former editor-at-large for Vogue magazine, told Essence, “Vogue, Conde Nast, that’s not our world. We are not the majority.”
On the flip side, many readers were in an up roar when Essence hired a white woman, Ellianna Placas, to serves as its fashion director. This even prompted a statement via Facebook from Michaela Angela Davis, “It’s with a heavy heart I’ve learned that Essence magazine has engaged a white fashion director,” she wrote. “The fashion industry has historically been so hostile to black people — especially women. The seat reserved for black women once held by Susan Taylor, Ionia Dunn-Lee, Harriette Cole is now — I can’t. It’s a dark day for me.”
Many would argue that the fashion industry has significantly progressed in matters regarding racial inclusion. From Vogue Italia‘s all black spreads; Chinese model, Liu Wen serving as the face of Estée Lauder; and a Jewish Natalie Portman as the spokeswoman for Miss Dior Cherie perfume (how ironic) — there are signs the lean toward that sentiment. However, Galliano’s open remarks say otherwise and remind us that we still have an incredbly long way to go.
Galliano’s actions have had varying effects on the fashion industry and its consumers. Many people have decided to boycott the Dior brand by refusing to make purchases and ridding their closets of the designer’s clothing. Should this same practice be applied to designers that refuse to include models of color on the runway? Or what about magazines that only feature Nordic blondes on covers?