naomi campbell on the runway at dior couture f/w 07.08
naomi campbell has worked for many causes in her day: aids research, nelson mandela’ childrens fund, and breast cancer. now she’s directing her efforts at a new injustice: the lack of color in modeling. she told a kenyan reporter last week that “black models are being sidelined by major modeling agencies,” and that she even gets dissed in her own country, only appearing on british vogue eight times (compared to kate moss’ 24 appearances). campbell is even contemplating opening her own agency in kenya, saying, “I believe there are pretty girls from your lovely country who can grace the international catwalk and the front pages of fashion magazines with proper strategies.”
as much as i applaud naomi’s efforts, i can’t help feeling it should have come sooner. the fashion world still has a long way to go in portraying an image of equality, even though spending among minorities has tripled in recent years. magazines like vogue do alot to promote young designers, such as the cfda/vogue fund, that get their names out there and make the public aware of their talent and presence. vogue could have done the same thing with models, and they did with certain names: liya kebede, alek wek, veronica webb. i get the feeling that campbell is partially taking on this cause now because her career is on the downslope and if she had done it earlier, it would have meant more competition for her.
jaunel mckenzie at de la renta resort, chanel iman at dior resort
i remember seeing campbell on tyra banks’ talk show, talking about the relationship the two had when tyra was on the runways. tyra said what drove her away from the high-fashion part of business was her feud with campbell, that campbell saw banks as a rival instead of as a sister. during campbell’s stint at the top, there have been black models that have come up, and she did not do her part to try to encourage them.
as a black woman who reads vogue, can buy (some of the) things i see in it, and has attended runway shows, i want to see more diversity in the pages. i want advertisers like ralph lauren (who has used karen alexander), dior and others using minority models. i believe vogue, as a self-proclaimed “fashion leader” can help with this effort, but so can models like campbell. it’s just not one of anna’s pet projects, so the status quo will remain, although she did pick chanel iman for the “next supermodels” issue. i’m waiting for her to put chanel in every issue instead of caroline trentini. maybe i shouldn’t hold my breath.
pics from elle.com and style.com