After a (non)productive day of creating new content for the blog while on vacation, I took a break from writing to recalibrate by gaining some inspiration through my Instagram feed. Scrolling pass the travel and fellow fashion blogger posts, I followed a few hashtags that left me 12 photos removed from the original when a video clip of Australian label Misha Collection, caught my eye on the @IMGmodels account:
Ohh it’s Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week in Australia, how could I forget? Remembering that I am on vacation in Brisbane, just north of Sydney, I swatted the question away considering that anything beyond three feet of eyesight was quickly falling to the wayside. I’m in vacation mode. Hard. With the audio still muted on the Instagram video clip, I scanned the faces of a dozen white models on the runway and thought Hmm, another show lacks inclusivity of ethnic models. What else is new? *shrugs* Just as I was going to swipe right to go back to can’t-be-bothered-land, my curiosity got the best of me and I tapped the clip to hear the audio.
I go off (I go off), I go hard (I go hard)
Get what’s mine (take what’s mine), I’m a star (I’m a star)
Cause I slay (slay), I slay (hey), I slay (okay), I slay (okay)
All day (okay), I slay (okay), I slay (okay)
I know those lyrics. And that tune. Isn’t that ‘Formation’ by Beyonce? As in the pro-Black anthem debuted at the Super Bowl as dancers in bodysuits, berets and afros paid homage to the Black Panthers? Rather than witnessing an army of black and brown women paying homage to their African roots, fashion followers watched an all white group of Balmain-esq models strut robotically down the runway to the lyrics of a Black girl’s anthem. Interesting. I mean, maybe not as interesting as Donald Trump using ‘Lift Ev’ry Voice’ as a campaign song interesting but interesting. From Instagram comments to tweets across social media, it seems as if everyone was so head over heels about Bella Hadid’s finale that many, and I mean many, neglected one glaring detail: the show closed with Beyonce’s ‘Formation’ without a single model or person of color on the runway. None. While an overwhelming majority gawked at Bella’s new squad, few, and I mean few, chose to dissent the use of ‘Formation’ in a homogeneously white space across various Instagram posts:
To say the least, the song selection proved to be of poor taste for two reasons:
1). It was completely inappropriate to use the unapologetic message of Black is beautiful considering the conscious decision to cast exclusively white models for the resort collection
. Sadly, the incorporation of color could only be seen through the collection’s color story itself, rather than embracing multiculturalism through a spectrum of diverse models. The lack of diversity was so overwhelmingly European that it felt as if I fell into a dystopia version of Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio. If the brand truly wanted to embrace an anthem that best maintained the purity of their model aesthetic, perhaps they should have considered Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love video.
2). Which brings me to my second reason for the poor music choice. It felt forced. The track used for the fashion show could easily be described as a haunting-but-aquatic-chant of cave echoes laid over a driving up-tempo beat. However ‘Formation’ was used unnecessarily as the show’s finale to elevate the energy levels of the crowd and redefine what it means to get in formation. But its not as if the models came out to the chorus where people could easily rationalize that this song should be enjoyed by all races. No that would be too simple. In this video clip
, Bella Hadid literally leads a band of white models to the runway at exactly the point where Beyonce (get this)
My Daddy Alabama / Momma Louisiana / you mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas mama
At this point, my brow is furrowed as I visualize relatable themes of Black identity floating amongst a sea of melanin absent models. Did the show organizers not grapple with the context of the song or do any research? Chances are no.
Given my professional experience in diversity and inclusion I would have provided a few pointers. The fashion industry is too big of a machine to use excuses like, my dog ate my homework. One might assume that someone, anyone, could have exercised some rational logic upon hearing I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros…I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils during dress rehearsal to note the disconnect.
I don’t blame Bella
work, work work work work it or the models, as they are hired to render their wickedly good looks to a brand that is pushing a specific look. A brand which collectively decided that the finale was going to be used as a drop the mic moment to upstage everyone else’s posse rather than use it as an opportunity to…well, not use the song at all.
Bottom line: If seasonal trends moved at the same rate as the fashion industry’s inclusion of ethnic models, we’d all still be wearing fanny packs and trucker hats.
Now excuse me as I get back to vacation mode in Brisbane. Hard.