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Behind the Scenes: Philipp Plein’s Fashion Manifesto

After exclusively casting black models, including Alek Wek and Liya Kebede, for his Spring 2014 show in Milan, German designer, Philipp Plein, is continuing to make a new statement against racism with his latest ad campaign.

Shot in Milan by photographer Francesco Carrozzini (the son of Vogue Italia Editor in Chief, Franca Sozzani), the cast of black models is described in an official release as “a cool gang, dressed to kill”, sporting the brand’s monochrome white and shimmering ready-to-wear and accessories.

According to Plein, it was an official letter from the British Fashion Council, condemning the lack of diversity in the fashion industry, that made him think about the responsibility of designers, and “all the power given to them to spread messages through fashion.”

“I’m an independent designer and I have the freedom to do whatever comes in my mind. When me and my team decided to make a black casting for the show, we thought of a statement, and a way to break rules and to push barriers, which is the aim of my brand [sic],” explained the designer.

“I was not expecting such an enthusiasm from the models, during the show. The atmosphere backstage was incredible. We shot the campaign the day after the show, and it was logical to keep the same statement.”

Plein is not the only fashion professional who questions the lack of black models on the runway and in the advertising campaigns of major fashion brands, and stated that he received plenty of support on the matter. “The reactions are amazing,” he continued. “I have had only good comments. But you know it´s hard to criticize this kind of campaign, you risk to be accused of racism. I guess people who don’t appreciate my choice just stay quiet [sic].”

One can only hope that with time, the segregation of white and black models will one day be confined to the history books.

—Elisabeta Tudor

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