Fashion school apologizes after catwalk accessories called racist
A file image of clothes on a rack (Artem Beliaikin/Pexels)
TORONTO -- A New York City-based fashion school has apologized after a model booked to walk in their fashion show complained that the accessories she was asked to wear on the catwalk were racist.
Models were asked to wear exaggerated ears, lips and bushy eyebrows for the Fashion Institute of Technology’s MFA show during a New York Fashion Week showcase in Manhattan on Feb. 7.
One model, named in local reports as Amy Lefevre, refused to wear the accessories she deemed “racist,” and walked the show without them.
Jonathan Kyle Farmer, chair of the modern fine arts fashion design course responsible for the fashion show, apologized in an Instagram post directly to Lefevre, writing “I deeply apologize for any harm and pain I’ve caused to those involved with the show, including Amy LeFevre.”
In an official message posted to the school’s website, Joyce Brown, president of the Fashion Institute of Technology, wrote “currently, it doesn’t appears that the original intent of the designs, the use of accessories or the creative direction of the show was to make a statement about race.”
“However, it is not glaringly obvious that has been the outcome,” she continued. “For that we apologize.”
Brown said that there is currently an investigation into “how this happened.”
The fashion world has long courted backlash for styles and advertising campaigns that feature racist imagery or themes.
Dolce and Gabbana’s November 2018 ad campaign featuring a Chinese model struggling to eat pasta and pizza with chopsticks was met with derision in China, with many consumers calling for a boycott of the luxury designer’s products.
The ads were eventually pulled and the fashion house apologized.
In February of last year, Gucci was widely criticized for unveiling a sweater that ‘resembled blackface,’ as was a Katy Perry shoe design and a Prada set of accessories. All of the brands involved have since apologized.
Last month, Japanese fashion power house Comme des Garcons apologized for sending out white models wearing cornrowed wigs in their Paris men’s show.