There’s no denying that, in its long and prominent history, the fashion industry has more often than not represented one standard of beauty. From catwalks to advertising campaigns, brands in days past have typically veered towards models of a typical build, age, and ethnicity – but we all know the world is a much richer tapestry. However, in recent years, the industry has been doing more to champion diversity, and 2018 in particular has seen a much more inclusive approach to representation. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the most noteworthy moments that symbolize how inclusivity has become more of a norm, not a buzzword, this year.
Adut Akech Bior Closes Chanel’s Couture Show
The Sudanese-Australian model made history this month, after she became the second-ever model of color to make a final stroll down the runway at the French maison’s Fall 2018 show. Akech Bior was handpicked by Karl Lagerfeld as his ‘Chanel bride’ of the season, joining the ranks of models selected for the spot in collections past, including Cara Delevingne, Luna Bijl, and Alek Wek. The latter was the first model of color to close Chanel’s haute couture show, back in 2004. Eighteen-year-old Akech Bior also opened Chanel’s Cruise show earlier this year, though admitted her turn at the Couture display was her “proudest achievement.” “No matter who you are, where you come from or what you have, as long as you have a dream it is achievable,” she wrote on Instagram following the show. “Put in hard work, give it your all, stay dedicated, determined and, most importantly, never give up, because you will make that dream a reality at some point.”
Dreadlocks Made an Appearance at Dior
Another French heritage house closed its Fall 2018 Couture show with a model of color – in this case Indira Scott for Christian Dior. Even more noteworthy was the model’s locks, an often unrepresented hairstyle on the catwalk. Scott’s dreads were accessorized with wooden beads, the neutral shades playing off the muted, grey-mauve gown. The model later revealed she cried after closing the Dior show, thanking artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri on Instagram for “believing in her”.
Versace Brings Together 54 Models To “Symbolize Inclusivity”
The Italian fashion house brought together tens of models for its recently unveiled Fall 2018 campaign, which the brand claims is the “longest-ever advertising image”. Among the famous faces that took part were half-Palestinian catwalk stars Bella and Gigi Hadid, Nora Attal and Egyptian-Moroccan model Imaan Hammam, as well as Kaia Gerber, Stella Maxwell, and Adut Akech Bior. Using models of color and women embracing their curls (we’re looking at you, Imaan), Versace said the 54-model-strong campaign “symbolized inclusivity, a key value for artistic director Donatella Versace and her vision for the brand”. “The longest Versace line-up is made up of a mega mix of personalities – from supermodels to young new talent in looks that are all about confidence,” the brand added on Instagram.
Brands Began Designing With Wheelchair Users in Mind
Several labels have made roads in expanding representation in their collections in recent seasons – most notably Tommy Hilfiger and Asos, both of which this year broadened their accessible clothing offerings. Giant e-tailer Asos partnered with BBC reporter Chloe Ball-Hopkins to design a tie-dyed jumpsuit, created especially with wheelchair users in mind (think waterproof, versatile, and with a longer hem at the back). US label Hilfiger also unveiled a disability-friendly line named Tommy Adaptive, which includes a range of pieces crafted with adjustable details and easy-use fastenings. The campaign for the line brought together a diverse range of models, from US Paralympian track star Jeremy Campbell, to motivational speaker Mama Caxx, who has a prosthetic limb.
Models of Color Score Myriad Campaigns
According to The Fashion Spot, Spring 2018’s fashion campaigns were the most inclusive to date, with 34% of models used representing women of color. The report looked at 218 campaigns starring 541 models in total, with the results increasing 1.2% from its Fall 2017 report. Models such as Haiti’s Aube Jolicoeur and South Sudan’s Shanelle Nyasiase were among those who featured prominently in campaigns, the site reported.
We Paid Tribute to #BeautyBeyondSize
For July/August 2018, Vogue Arabia enlisted not one, but two voluptuous models for our front cover – Ashley Graham and Paloma Elsesser. The runway stars also documented their journeys to self-love in an accompanying interview, with Graham, the tenth highest-paid model in the world, opening up about how her body-positive message might just be her “destiny.” “My mother told me that when I walked into a room, I would greet every single person – even at three years old,” the model said. “It was more of an emotion that I would give people, and it would leave them feeling good about who they are. I think that’s what I’m doing today; letting women know that they are worthy, that they are beautiful, and that they can be happy with who they are in their skin.”
Anok Yai Makes History at Prada
Following in Naomi Campbell’s footsteps might be an overwhelming prospect for some, but this 19-year-old model took it in her stride. The Egyptian-born American became the first black model to open a Prada show in 20 years when she stepped out onto the Fall 2018 catwalk in February, the first model of color to do so since Campbell in 1997. “It was an honor and I’m proud that I was the one chosen to open, but this is bigger than me. Me opening for one of the top fashion houses is a statement to the world – especially for black women – that their beauty is something that deserves to be celebrated,” Yai told Vogue UK of the moment.
Georges Hobeika Enlists a Power Duo to Close His Couture Show
For Fall 2018, the Lebanese designer called upon Maria Borges and Cindy Bruna to lead his finale, with the two strutting down the catwalk side by side, wearing complementary gold and silver beaded gowns. After decades of women of color getting no representation on the runway, seeing two close a show together made a powerful statement.
Isabella Rossellini Reappeared in Lancôme Campaigns
Years after she was released from her contract with the beauty brand for being too old at age 43, Lancôme put the now-65-year-old actor front and center of its 2018 adverts. The Italian star was first resigned with the cosmetics and skincare label in 2015, but only started appearing in campaign imagery again earlier this year. “They told me they needed somebody younger. The advertising was aspirational, and even though they have clients of many ages, the desire was for youth,” Rossellini told the Cut of being let go. Her 2018 adverts, shot by Peter Lindbergh, are refreshingly unretouched, and just one of several beauty brand adverts in recent years to use models representing the over 60s (think Charlotte Rampling for NARS). “It’s wonderful to be back, to be a part of women’s emancipation, and I just happen to represent it through Lancôme,” the star told Vanity Fair.