By Limsan Boulter (@limo_x) for Fashion Bomb Daily
Paris Haute Couture week is well and truly over, but what a week it was. Designers really bought their A-game with notable shows including Elie Saab glittering down the runway, Dior’s circus inspired collection and Viktor & Rolf with their slogan adorning dresses.
For me, Balmain was undoubtedly one of the more captivating. Olivier Rousteing’s designs were futuristic and head turning, using both curved and bold shapes. It was for sure one of the most talked about catwalks of the week but has all the talk been for the right reasons?
This show was Olivier Rousteing’s first couture show as Creative Director of Balmain. Interestingly, for the show he decided to have some of the model’s make up to include body paint. Some models were painted over in white, while others has their skins darkened. And it hasn’t gone down too well with both critics and fans are calling out Balmain for using blackface.
Models such as Italian-Congolese born Cindy Bruna were almost unrecognisable with her face and body covered in a dark shade of makeup.
Ysaunny Brito, who comes from Dominican Republic, was another model that many viewers were outraged to see her naturally caramel complexion darkened.
Even Sudanese-Australian model Duckie Thot appeared to be on the darker side.
The question now is, was it to prove a point about diversity or was it to be artistic? Either way, why didn’t they just hire models that are already the beautiful, rich ebony that they wanted?
This wouldn’t be the first time that Rousteing has made a statement about the lack of diversity in the fashion industry. During the Cannes film festival, he dressed 16 actresses for a press call and called the project ‘Noire N’est Pas Mon Metier’ meaning ‘Black is not my profession’. Having these actresses speak out about how they have been stereotyped in the industry really showed the discrimination issue that the fashion industries (and other media related industries) has.
Rousteing – who is of mixed ethnicity – has famously said in the past he is ‘just human’ and doesn’t specifically identify with either his black or white background, has previously been praised for his racially diverse #BalmainArmy. In an 2016 interview he says ‘‘I think the fashion industry talks a lot, but they don’t act a lot’ continuing to say “ We have the chance to represent the world and how we want that world to be’.
Unfortunately, a lack of black models on the catwalk is an issue that has been raised over and over again. However, I do think that it has started to change (shoutout to Valentino during their couture show)
No official comment has come from Balmain or Olivier Rousteing as of yet.
What do you think? Has Balmain gone too far or is it just a big misunderstanding? Let us know in the comments below.