October 4th, 2013
Diversity, Ethnic Models, Fashion, Fashion Week, Featured
Spring 2014 Runway Diversity Report: The Winners and the Losers
By The Fashion Bomb Staff

As you could undoubtedly see in our Black Model roundup from the Spring 2014 show season, many designers took heed to the Diversity Coalition’s request, and used more than a couple black women to display their wares. But while most chose to be the change we all wish to see in the world, a small handful didn’t. We identified three big names who didn’t budge with diversity, and 3 who blew us away with their dedication.

6Spring 2014 Diversity Report Card- The Winners And The Losers

Take a quick look at who did what and perhaps where you should be spending your dollars on your next shopping trip.

The Losers:
1. Ann Demeulemeester


There’s always plenty of black on the Ann Demeulemeester runway. Sadly, this doesn’t apply to the models. The label was clearly unbothered by the Diversity Coalition listing them as one of their Fashion Week offenders. Indeed, not even the highly-publicized epistle could get them to break their storied, 12-year tradition of using no black models in their women’s shows.


We scoured their collections on Style.com, and were disheartened to see season after season brown girls were left out. It appears they haven’t used a black female model since 2001, when  Alek Wek stomped down their catwalk.

2. Isabel Marant


This one was a shocker for us. Beyoncé helped put her iconic wedge sneaker on the map, and with fans like Halle Berry, Chanel Iman, Alicia Keys, and more, it surprised us to see Marant’s latest with nary a brown face in sight.


Especially with her upcoming H&M collaboration, a store patronized by many women of color, she might have at least felt to be more inclusive this season. Marant has used black models in the past, but it was definitely disappointing to see that she had opted out for Spring 2014.


3. Max Mara


Though we can fortunately report that Max Mara‘s runways aren’t always so whitewashed, this season definitely was. The show was almost completely homogenous– Soo Joo Park provided the only bit of diversity as the lone Asian model on the catwalk.


However, Max Mara has in practice shown a pattern of embracing diversity: they’ve got a plus-sized label Marina Rinaldi, and they used plus-sized and black bloggers as part of their campaign. Better luck next time!

The Winners

1. Philipp Plein

Philipp Plein caused a stir in Milan when he sent an all-black cast down the runway for his Spring 2014 show. Milan is notorious for being one of Fashion Month’s least diverse weeks, so, the fact that Plein chose an all-black cast was certainly refreshing, to say the very least. Plein told Fashionista“My message is about breaking down barriers and breaking the rules.”


Doing the unexpected and shaking people from their complacence,  forcing people to face the future where old prejudices have no place. For example, the public expects to see pallid girls in high heels walking my show and I give them a fleet of black beauties in flats!” While we lament the fact that using a majority of black models in a show is seen as “breaking the rules,” Plein’s show was a welcome change of pace.
2. Rick Owens
Fashion Bomb Exclusive- Interview with Stepper # 12 from the Rick Owens Spring 2014 Show Says It was Not a GimmickHow could we leave out Rick Owens? The designer opted for a powerful, energetic display for the Spring 2014 season, tapping the talents of American step teams Step Momentum, Washington Divas, Soul Steppers, and the Zetas. The girls took the runway stomping, clapping, and mean-mugging, in what was a spectacular display of beauty and strength, and a time-honored African-American tradition.

rick owens spring 2014 show

Not only did he use an almost all-black cast, but the women in the show weren’t what you would expect to see on any runway: from short and curvy to tall and thick, Owens’s show was a bastion of body diversity, going firmly against the popular belief in fashion that clothes look best when presented on tall, waif-like women.


3. Céline
celine spring 2014 ready to wear malaika firth
Ah, now all of you can continue carrying your Phantom bags without any nagging guilty feelings! Likely feeling pressure from the Diversity Coalition for completely neglecting to put any models of color at all on her runway, Céline wins this Fashion Month’s most improved award, now that they added black models to their lineup. We literally could not believe our eyes when we saw not one, but four brown faces on their runway after having used no black models for several years.


This is the first time in Phoebe Philo’s tenure at the label that she’s used any black models at all to showcase her main season offerings. The last time a black model was showcased on the Céline runway, was Spring 2009, for former creative director Ivana Omazic last turn at the helm of the brand. Perhaps Iman’s comment that she doesn’t buy Céline products got to Phoebe Philo!

Again, we want to point out that it looks like a lot of designers took the Diversity Coalition’s letter to heart, and have diversified their casts. If you take a look at our post of 7 black models to watch, you’ll see a wealth of houses who opted to use brown faces.

kai newman rodate spring 2014 new york

Our research is far from complete, but these are just three who stood out to us in each category. If you can find or think of more, let us know in the comments!



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11 Responses to “Spring 2014 Runway Diversity Report: The Winners and the Losers”

  1. Dee says:

    Great post Jihan! I love that FBD continues to push stories like this. I’m shocked that Isabel Marant didn’t use more black models as well though……

  2. bella says:

    i’m still not here for it. call me a ~negative nancy~ but if you have to be completely called out before having black models then it doesn’t seem genuine..at least in my opinion

  3. Delia says:

    I’m glad! I always love these posts because they help me determine where to spend my hard-earned money. Ever since I read how much we as a community spend on consumer goods and how little we save, I literally can’t afford to spend money on brands that are trying their hardest to prove that I don’t exist. Thanks FBD staff, articles like these continue to make me come to the site, with or without bombshells :)

  4. Deola says:

    Sad to see Max Mara on the naughty list. Hopefully they will do better next season.

  5. Natasha says:

    Kudos to FBD for following up. The fifth Estate at its best.

  6. Sydni says:

    Great post.

    I bought a fashion Magazine, Harpers Baazar i think, so that i could put the pictures on my dorm walls and all I could find were white faces! It definitely was the camel in the straws back for me and made me realize that I need to pay more attention to this issue.

  7. Shayla says:

    Kudos to Fashionbomb staffers for following up! Thank you, I will put the Phantom bag back on my wish-list! Phoebe had me messed up, thinking I would covet anything from a brand/house that didn’t acknowledge our beauty, but happily accept our $$$. Excellent post.

  8. Jei says:

    Great post! I’m loving the statement Philipp Plein made with having all Black models grace the runway for his collection. Thanx for highlighting which designers aren’t taking heed, but happy to see that some are.

    @Bella Change is happening, && a good one at that..why not bring light to it? Why would you not be happy to see that?

  9. NYC chick says:

    Good to see that the designers were at least responsive. Unfortunate that this required so much pressure, but it is at least progress

  10. LeashLeash says:

    I agree about it at least being progress. I feel like sometimes you have to put the pressure on people in order for them to start changing. So even if it’s not genuine now, hopefully their perspective on things will start to change.

  11. Ayana says:

    No Isabel Marant/H&M for me!

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