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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  • Von

    I’m glad we’re having this dialogue, but what do we do after it? When I see magazines featuring clothing and accessories of these same luxury designers it makes me go,hmmm especially when there isn’t one ad featured in these same magazines, but yet they claim to be directed at women who are supposedly affluent shoppers.

    The CHANEL brand means exclusiveness and wealth only reserved for those who can actually afford to buy the brand or those who would rather go broke to have it. I’ve seen several of these same models featured in the catalogs directed at affluent shoppers in Bergdorfs, Neiman Marcus, SAKS, etc. Sessilee was featured in an ad campaign for the upscale 3 SUISSES Catalog in Europe.

    I know that there are other models available, but many models are featured in various campaigns in other countries that many of you don’t see unless you visit these countries. And if you follow these modeling websites I’ve also noticed that they don’t feature half of the ad campaigns and editorials many Black models are featured in.Jourdan and Joan are primarily seen as top-tier because this is how the American fashion industry works, based upon who they deem as popular at the present moment.

    I read Arise magazine and I noticed that it’s full of luxury based ads compared to Essence, Ebony (which aren’t fashion mags)and Jones magazines which are comprised primarily of beauty products and home-care advertisements. Our buying power is large enough to control several countries and yet luxury brands still don’t see us as customers. Has it ever stopped us from spending our money with these brands? No and it probably never will.

    Luxury, versus necessity by definition, is a function of price divided by an arbitrary expression of the practical value of an item. Supply is key because exclusivity is one of the major facets of luxury, material goods and services cannot be considered a luxury if everybody has or does the same things.

    Want to change things at Chanel? I suggest everyone that’s angry about this exclusion of Black models write Alain & Gerard Wertheimer, the two main owners of the company. Who knows they just might listen and take action. Are we?

    Revolution and change starts when we take action, not inaction. Money talks and so does the action of withholding it.
    Thank you for the opportunity to comment:)

  • Bronze

    Well if we could have our own magazine…If, if, if….*sigh*

    This is going to sound real ugly but here I go…..

    How many fashionable sistahs do you see (besides r&B singers) on the street?

    How many black women on the street are in shape?

    Black women are stunning but we not doing soo good in the slim/fit and attractive department.

    • shopgirl

      @Bronze. I am not trying to jump on you, but have you been to or seen pictures of Black women in New York City, L.A., Capetown, or London? Black women (big or small) can be very fashionable.

      Consumers are supposed to aspire to be like the models so that they buy overpriced apparel. Perhaps, Chanel and other brands feel that their mainly White consumer base will not identify with a Arlenis, Sessilee, or Jourdan as much with a girl of European descent.

      We should really be asking ourselves do we really want young Black women to be targeted with these manufactured and unrealistic standards of beauty?

    • Bronze

      No I’m glad you did jump on me (lol)

      I know there are tons of fashionable black women roaming the streets. I was just raising the question of our obesity problem.

      But white people are not the only consumers. There are Arabs and Chinese and Japanese consumers. Are my feathers ruffled cause I don’t see representations of their beauty?

      And yes……all types of women are fashionable. Yes indeed. I was just wondering if maybe we should want to see all types of beauty.

      Cause black and white gets boring after a while.

    • shopgirl

      Of course, I want models of all colors to get jobs. But, it kind of makes me happy that black female consumers are not as subjected to the beauty standards of “high fashion” as other groups.

      My only insight into this world is “America’s Next Top Model” and other b.s. television that I watch. I would love for the writers at Coco + Creme to talk to casting directors in order to let people like me know what’s really happening at casting calls.

    • Bronze

      Now that would be the topic of the century!