Leaps and Bounds in Model Diversity During Fall 2017 Fashion Week

March 18th, 20179:00 am @

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Hijab-wearing model Halima Aden featured on the Max Mara runway in Milan

 Roman Drop Cap 1or the past month, the fashion world has been in a flurry with Fashion Weeks occurring in New York, Milan, London, and Paris.  Besides the fact that the athleisure trend may be coming to an end – due to the polished look showing up on runways like The Row, Céline, and Tory Burch, a new trend not of clothing but of models also appeared on runways around the world.

The movement to promote more diversity and body positivity really had a presence this Fall 2017 season with Ashley Graham, one of the most famous curvy models, walking in Michael Kors, and Prabal Gurung and Tome also featuring larger models.

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Italian model Benedetta Barzini walking in Simone Rocha

In New York, nearly every runway included at least one model of color.  With Kanye’s Yeezy Season 5 featuring newcomer Halina Aden, a hijab-wearing Muslim model, and Gypsy Sport had a shocking 87% of their models be of color in New York.  Gypsy Sport also had a unique casting process, which could also signal changes in the modeling industry, with models sourced from Instagram and from various rallies such as the Women’s March on Washington and protests against Trump’s anti-Muslim ban in New York.

But the diversity in models extended far beyond size and racial inclusivity.  Ageism and transgender inclusivity were also tackled, particularly on runways in London and Paris.

In New York, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s brand The Row featured models Alex Wek and Kirsten Owen, both over the age of 30.  For Dries van Noten’s 100th runway presentation in Paris, he selected models of all ages ranging from 20 to 50.  At Simone Rocha’s show in London, septuagenarian supermodels and legends Benedetta Barzini, Jan de Villeneuve, and Marie Sophie Wilson-Carr were all featured in her military-inspired show.

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Transgender model Dara featured in Marc Jacobs

Multiple transgender models, such as Stav Strashko, Casil McArthur, and Dara walked at Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler.  Dara, a 23-year old trans model from New York, is unsigned and made her debut alongside industry veterans at Marc Jacobs.  Hopefully this signals a new era of diversity in the fashion industry, especially because at the Marc Jacobs show, Dara was not the “token trans model,” but was, in fact, one of the four trans models walking.

In fact, for New York Fashion Week, the Fall 2017’s runways had 31.5% models of color, a marginal increase from last season.  But, there were other impressive signs of progress.  As mentioned before, every runway in New York included at least one model of color.  While there were a few brands that had a smaller percentage of models of color than others, The Row, for instance, was at 13%, this is a significant increase over last season when The Row featured zero models of color for Spring 2017.

Images courtesy of: Observer, The Telegraph, and Vogue