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Will casting diversity rule the SS20 fashion weeks?

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

4 Sep 2019

European fashion designers have often been accused of conservative casting practices, favouring young Caucasian models in their campaigns and on their catwalks.

When official figures from the Runway Diversity Report by The Fashion Spot were released in March, New York proved to the most racially diverse of all the main fashion weeks, with nearly half of all models cast, 45.8 percent were of colour.

London, a champion of directional fashion, lacks catwalk diversity

In London, fashion week saw a decrease in racial diversity where non-white models made up 35.7 percent of runways castings. Milan saw an increase of 1.0 percent to 31.8 percent models of colour. Paris fashion week came in second place as the most racially diverse, casting a total of 39 percent models of colour, the largest increase of all fashion weeks of 6.6 percent.

According to the European shows that were examined in the report, only six featured size diversity. For Fall 2019, Paris, which had one non-straight-size model appearance in Spring 2019 and only three the season prior, had the most castings in this category of any European city (nine, an all-time high). Tommy Hilfiger’s show cast featured 7 plus-size models. The London catwalks featured the most plus-size castings (four, a record for the city) than any other European city. Two plus-size models — Daniel Lismore and Emma Breschi — walked at Vivienne Westwood.

In Milan there was not a single plus-size model seen on the official catwalk schedule.

In Spring 2019, casting of models who openly identify as transgender or non-binary reached an all-time high with 91 (1.23 percent) models in either category (83 trans women, eight non-binary models) walking in a total of 52 shows.

By contrast, Fall 2019 marks the first time that the number of trans and non-binary castings has shrunk. Only 56 (0.77 percent) openly transgender women and non-binary models walked in all of fashion month.

In terms of age diversity, London fell to the bottom of the pile with five over-50 castings: three at Vivienne Westwood, two at Simone Rocha — both longtime advocates for older model visibility.

In Milan, which last season had the most over-50 model appearances of any city outside of New York — and the most in its history — only six models age 50 or over walked the runway. That is three less than in Spring 2019, but considerably better than Fall 2018’s two. Donatella Versace and Daniela Gregis continued their practice of hiring over-50 models (Stephanie Seymour and Benedetta Barzini, respectively). Pat Cleveland, the season’s most-booked over-50 model, walked at Laura Biagiotti.

Of the 221 shows surveyed last season, Milan’s Daniela Gregis featured zero models of colour.

Image: courtesy of Fashion Scout