The images show young women dressed in Fashion black holding signs which list Essence Magazine's proud history of black Fashion Directors: Susan Taylor, Agnes B. Cammock, Sandra Martin, Pamela Macklin, Ionia Dunn Lee, many whom I've had the pleasure of working with. The signs read..."I Am..." signifying the fact that the next great black Fashion Director is out there, and according to many, being ignored by the masses.
The silent walk from Time Warner to Lincoln Center has been seen as an homage to black Fashion Directors and a brave display of criticism for the lack of black women in director positions at the top magazines. Michaela even captioned one of the images "Fashion Activism: Cool & Compassionate." She called it "a tribute, a message."
The images followed a Facebook post, in which Michaela wrote:
This is Fashion Week. For the 1rst time in its 40yr history Essence magazine doesn't have a black Fashion Director. There're several un or under employed completely or over qualified black candidates. There're no blacks holding the top spot at any top magazine. Who would imagine in the era of Michelle O when it comes ...to diversity, Fashion Week would get even weaker?
While many may condemn these women for their efforts, it's important to acknowledge the lack of diversity in fashion. African-American magazines, besides Arise, Essence Magazine and Ebony Magazine, are all but ignored. Recently, Proenza Schouler released an inflammatory, controversial video lampooning black women via The Fashion Bomb. About the video, a critic tweeted "They can't offend black customers. They don't have any." Gasp.
Only time will tell if more black models will gain a presence on the Spring 2011 Fashion Week runways. Racism in the fashion industry is not imagined; it's real.
But is this tribute march the right way to address, and combat, it? Discuss. What's your opinion on the Fashion Director Protest?