As much as the news about diverse casts seem promising, NYFW still proves that introducing diverse line-ups consecutively is far from reality. There is not an actual report of the demographics of the runway show lists – I doubt there will ever be for this season – NYFW gets at most D for diversity. Remembering that there was an actual investigation into F/W 2007 collections by WWD very few steps have been taken since then. An unofficial report by Nico Bellay shows the staggering ratio of black to white models based on only 15 shows.
It is not only the ratio of MOC to white models that seems disappointing but the way designers and casting directors seemingly promote diversity on the runways. Hervé Léger by Max Azria sent 3 MOC one after the other in what seems to be another tactic of grouping non-white models on the runway. Grouping still seems innocent next to tokenism or a full-white line-up but it is seeded on the very core of racist ideologies; this time it promotes isolation. Alexander Wang, the golden child of New York, exploited this trick for his runway show: three Asian models were sent one after the other.
John L. Jackson, Jr. sums up this phenomena that excludes MOC on and off runway succinctly, “All [the editors] have done is find a different way to single out the difference of European beauty, by marking off these racialized bodies in their own special issue.” Jackson, Jr. refers to Vogue Italia All Black issue by the “special issue” but applied to spectacle the consecutive looks of the MOC on runway are also territories on runways.
Instagram introduced a new app called Hyperlapse right before NYFW to speed up or down the videos shot by IPhones, now the staple tech gadgets replacing observant eyes at the shows. When the fashion industry is so slow on finally coming to the terms with inevitable racism that is not tackled in the dialect of fashion journalism and media outlets, such apps don’t really make difference. There is far long way to go with the debate, which always comes second after the collections or what X celebrity wore to the front row of Y show. Ethnicity of the models is not an accessory of the designers and casting directors so that they could be grouped or lumped on the runway. There is already an absence of MOC in almost all of the fashion capitals and half-assed attempts to promote diversity just diverts attention from the real discourse of racism.