Why Were Milan’s Runways So Whitewashed?

James Lim, New York Magazine, March 4, 2009

While New York’s runways were more diverse than in seasons past, Milan was quite the opposite. Top Italian designers Gianfranco Ferré, Giorgio Armani, Jil Sander, Marni, Missoni, Moschino, Prada, and Salvatore Ferragamo featured all-white casts of models. And the few times when designers did book ethnic models, they picked from a small, highly-selective pool of girls: Jourdan Dunn, Liu Wen, and Marina Peres (Dunn, Wen, and Peres were the most requested girls from their respective groups.) When you break down the stats of all the ethnic girls the diversity issue on Milan’s runways becomes even bleaker. We noticed that most of the girls had just one turn down the runway, while their Eastern European counterparts had two. Though at the shows where only one or two ethnic models were booked for a show, they would often do double duty having two looks. Way to get your money’s worth, casting directors.

Even Prada, which broke a ten-year dry spell by featuring Jourdan Dunn for a couple of seasons, had no models of color. Nada. And this is coming from the country that made that made waves in fashion with their all-black issue of Italian Vogue just last year

We can understand that designers want their shows to be directional not only in their clothes, but in their selection of models, too. But what good is being directional if you’ve been going the same direction for years? Picture this: Jourdan Dunn opening for Prada. Now that’s what we’d call directional.

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[Editor’s Note: For complete statistics on the models of Milan see the original article.]

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