You can literally hear crickets and a pen dropping. The Valentino Haute Couture Spring 2019 fashion show made history; and it’s not even going viral. Maison Valentino’s Creative Director, Pierpaolo Piccioli cast 43 black models for Paris Fashion Week; in an industry in the past, where it was the norm to only see one; maybe two sprinkled throughout the entire show.
However, Pierpaolo did not allow “the standard” to influence his decision making. Instead he turned to celebration. The celebrating of true black beauty in all of its glorious femininity.
Valentino Haute Couture Spring 2019 Cast 43 Black Models and Industry is Silent
Why is all of this hoopla and spotlight on this subject necessary? Well, a quick lesson in history is all that is needed. Renown photographer Derek Blasberg recounts the dark truth and reality of Paris fashion. He explains,
“There was a time when French fashion houses wouldn’t lend clothes to black fashion magazines; (the owner of Ebony had to purchase clothes for photo shoots); and black models weren’t allowed to get dressed in the same backstages as white girls.
Today, Maison Valentino took the notion of color and couture and flipped it upside down in one of the most spectacular shows at Paris fashion week. Afterward, the designer, Pierpaolo Piccioli told me he wanted to celebrate black beauty beyond cultural conversations about diversity; and position the entire spectrum of femininity atop fashion’s food chain. The collection brought Naomi Campbell, who closed the show, to tears.”
Valentino Haute Couture Spring 2019 Cast 43 Black Models and Industry is Silent (Continued)
Are these claims true about the struggles of black magazines? The daughter of the owner of Ebony Magazine, Linda Johnson Rice, confirmed this sad truth in a statement directed to Derek Blasberg. Linda says,
“Thank you Derek for acknowledging Ebony magazine. My mother Eunice W. Johnson did have to buy the couture for the Ebony Fashion Fair show. Maison Valentino was one of her favorites. She was a woman of innate style, taste and determination.”
Sad, just sad. Nevertheless, the industry has truly come a long way. In 2018, more black models and celebs were seen on the cover of September issues (the biggest edition of the year for any magazine, thus making it a great honor); than ever before. Also, the designer twins behind DSQUARED have put on shows featuring an all black cast of models. Additionally, long gone is the segregation between white and black models.
However, as the saying goes, “If you forget history, you are bound to forget it.” Therefore, let’s not forget those who paved the way for the black models of today, or forget there is still room for PLENTY of improvement. Yet, let’s also celebrate glamorous black beauty being seen in a major fashion capital. Thank you Pierpaolo Piccioli, your message and show was absolutely breathtaking.
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