top of page

Black Representation

Fashion has definitely evolved over the years. Gender colours, blue for boys and pink for girls, is not so relevant today. Fashion is much more limitless, men and women can wear what they want to express themselves openly. A woman can wear a trouser suit without any being criticised.

The Underground Ballroom Culture played a significant part in fashion. It was known as the Ball Culture. In the 1920s in and around New York City is when it emerged as black queens were only allowed to participate only if they lightened their face with make-up. This was because it was before the Civil Right Movement in the United States of America. It was mainly for queer community as it is where they would truly embrace who they are without judgement. The models would dress themselves in huge extravagant gowns and walk the runway of the Ball full confidence, whilst looking fierce and getting sass/attitude at the same time.

Grace Jones, an Islander from Jamaica who migrated to the United States at a young age, set quite a few trends in her days. She was known for her over the top outfits in the 1970. She worked with Yves St Laurent in Paris. Lady Gaga and Roisin Murphy both spoke on how they were influenced by her style. In her own words Jones said that she would have not made it as model in the fashion industry. Jones explained that her wide shoulders and fluctuating weight would have made it difficult.

Melanin Beauty

It goes without saying that the representation of black women in the industry is still lacking. Let’s take Lupita Nyong’o's appearance on the front cover of Grazia, back in 2017. Lupita’s Afro hair was surprisingly smoothed to suit the Eurocentric notion of what black hair/beauty should look like. Nyong’o is very proud of her natural beauty and was very disappointed with Grazia UK for portraying and editing that image of her on their cover. Within the fashion industry there needs to be quite a lot done where black women are concerned. The make-up artists need to understand that people's skin tones and hair texture vary.

A black person within this industry has to be constantly proving their talent and worth daily. Sometimes they might be the only black person in that company. There are a lot challenges meted out to a black person/woman as well. If you have an Afro hairstyle people constantly feel they have the right to touch your hair. Some models are discriminated against because their skin colour is too dark. We are in new era and the fashion industry needs to do better. By actively hiring more than one black model for a shoot. Do you have senior black staff members? Do you have a zero policy towards racism within your company?

There is a need for more diversity within the fashion industry. When we diversify I don’t think it is meant that they want to highlight a particular cause. It is for people of different creed, colour and race to see a representation of themselves when they pick their fashion magazine from their local newsstand be it young or old.



bottom of page