It's About Time, Dior: Why We're Not Totally Excited That Raf Simmons Is Finally Using Black Models

It’s About Time, Dior: Why We’re Not Totally Excited That Raf Simmons Is Finally Using Black Models

Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014 - Dior-CatwalkPhoto: Marcio Madeira/News Pictures


There’s been much ado about Raf Simmons featuring six black models on his runway– for the first time– at Christian Dior’s Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014 collection on Monday. The talk comes almost four months after BuzzFeed did an investigative piece that discussed the propensity for the brand to cast white models. “I feel the Dior cast is just so pointedly white that it feels deliberate,” said casting director, James Scully about Simmons’ lily white shows.

The lineup of black models included: Alek Wek, Grace Mahary, Joan Smalls, Maria Borges, Kelly Moreira and Yasmin Warsame. As an aside, Jourdan Dunn was scheduled to be in the show but was cut because her bust size. She tweeted, “I’m normally told I’m cancelled because I’m ‘coloured’ so being cancelled because off my boobs is a minor.”

We have no doubt that after reading the BuzzFeed piece that discussed Simmons, Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton and Chanel,  that many designers will make a change in the casting decisions. It’s funny though, as  much as the black community talks about luxury designers, that it’s just now the fashion community is taking heed.


Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014Photo: Marcio Madeira/News Pictures


Our minds quickly regressed to Jay-Z and his affection for Cristal champagne, that was forever changed when the brand’s then managing director, Frederic Rouzaud made an interesting comment. In a 2006 interview with The Economist, Rouzaud insinuated that the Russia-made champagne was too good for the likes of rappers and their fans, that so often glorified it in lyrics and videos. The result: a boycott, change in sales and black-owned liquor brands that we see in bars today.

As we all know, fashion has more dedicated patrons than champagne, but there’s a similar feel of elitism and underscored racism that permeates in both luxury markets. Yes, Simmons including black models in his runway show for the first time is a big deal. But are all our woes solved in one swift move? Should we move on or is this just the beginning of a larger conversation that’s long due in the black community about brand loyalty?

  • blythedhia

    Six models out of how many? i swear, we’re always happy for a few crumbs from them instead of baking a pie of our own.

  • I find it funny that they just cast 6 black models but won’t even consider other types like hispanic, south asian and philippino models. The only other race that is seen on the runways frequently are asian models and even then, they are almost hidden away. We need to start embracing all races, ethnicities and cultures on the runway. Everyone loves fashion, so include everyone!

    • Bambi

      One step at a time.

      P.S. Considering that black Americans spend WAY more on retail/luxury goods, than any other group, we should have more faces that look like ours on the runways and in advertisements.

  • Kreole

    Sorry, but that’s their business so they can cast whoever the f they want. If blacks want black models, they should have their own fashion shows.

    • Bambi

      I’m a black woman (who works in the fashion industry) and I completely agree.

      I feel the same way about TV shows, movie, magazines and anywhere else.
      We are so quick to scream “racist”, but what is to expect when you’re coming to someone else ‘party’.

      You can’t go to ones home and tell them to what to serve for dinner. If you don’t like what was made, then eat at your own damn house!

      • MacingFacing

        I can agree with this also. I am surprised that models like Naomi Campbell and Tara Banks have not formed some of sort of Colored Girls fashion house. Just lets you know where their heads are at…in their wallets.

  • Felicia Lord

    You know we as black Ppl need to open or eyes if they don’t want us in there business then DO NOT support their business.remember Tommy Hilfiger who did not want black Ppl wearing his brand what’s the status now!

  • MacingFacing

    This is why I have NEVER and will NEVER buy anything luxury designed by the fashion industry. They don’t even care about our community when the are making their brands, so why should we care about. This article right here and the way that black act in society is prime example of how we are still being brainwashed until this day. Not all, but the majority.