New York Fashion Week Spring is currently underway and the diverse models walking the runway this year prove that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and shades. It’s doing wonderful things for representation.
According to Mic.com, all 34 models highlighted in underwear brand Marco Marco’s Collection Seven show were transgender. Among the show’s stars were Transparent actress Trace Lysette, model and activist Carmen Carrera, Pose actresses Domonique Jackson and Angelica Ross, and YouTuber Gigi Gorgeous.
"Although I have always had trans and non binary people in my shows, it became apparent to me that their presence was often overshadowed by cis gay men or cis gay men in drag," designer Marco Morante told Mic.com. "I wanted to create a space to celebrate trans bodies. This was an opportunity for their presence to be undeniable and reinforce that trans is beautiful."
The videos and pictures from the show look amazing:
Last night was full of so much love and so much beauty. #TransIsBeautiful @marcomarco_la @GeenaRocero @tracelysette @TheGigiGorgeous @Ariscestocrat @tyraaross @angelicaross @Carmen_Carrera @laith_ashley @AydianDowling #NYFW #LGBTQ #MarcoMarco pic.twitter.com/ir5lMDvu5l— Alexander Kacala (@AlexanderKacala) September 9, 2018
Trans models have appeared in NYFW shows before, including last year, but this is the first time that cisgender models weren’t at the centre of attention. As model Laith Ashley, who appeared in the show, told Them.us, Marco Marco’s show was a huge step toward normalising trans people. Ashley noted that usually, shows only include one “tokenised” trans model, who might disappear after walking the runway.
"This is my third time walking for Marco Marco,” he told them, “and I think that he’s always had a super diverse group of people walking his shows. But this sends a message to the fashion industry that they need to take responsibility and actually include us."
But this wasn’t the only show that called for diversity on the runway; Claudia Li made her debut at NYFW and her show turned heads, but not just for the designs. She debuted her spring 2019 collection with a cast of all Asian models.
#Centrestage: From Elton John’s farewell tour to Claudia Li’s historic show featuring all-Asian models, we bring you newsy tidbits from around the world that’ll keep you up to date on everything fashion: https://t.co/4u1xqdr96o pic.twitter.com/MHCMbgitQV— The Voice of Fashion (@thevofashion) September 12, 2018
Given the recent discourse surrounding Asian representation in pop culture — as well as the fact that the fashion industry still skews heavily white — Claudia’s decision is making waves.
So why did Claudia decide to do this? In an interview with HuffPost she explained: “I feel like often the fashion industry just tries to check a box — i.e., ‘We need an Asian girl for our show.’ But what kind of Asian girl? A Filipino girl? Singaporean? Chinese? Korean? ‘Asian’ doesn’t mean one thing,” she said. “I feel like the word ‘Asian’ just means one thing to a lot of people, and we are not just one note.”
This isn’t the first time a show has featured all Asian models (designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon from Kenzo cast all Asian models for their spring 2018 runway), but given that Asian representation is very important this still feels like a significant moment in fashion.
Actress and YouTuber Awkwafina sat front row at the show. The 29-year-old recently starred in the blockbuster hit Crazy Rich Asians, which has seen great, positive response and has been a great thing for Asian representation. Plus there’s the success of Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Hollywood veteran John Cho’s Searching, so it seems that Asian representation is on the up.
“It made me really proud to see an all-Asian runway,” Claudia told HuffPost. “I feel excited for the future of Fashion Week because this is an important conversation that needs to happen — not just for New York Fashion Week but for every Fashion Week.”
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