The Age of the Black Model

NEW YORK, United States - This year, the sounding horn of inclusion has rung loud and clear on all cylinders in the fashion industry. The most visible and immediate changes have taken place on external factors. Last month alone saw a record number of mainstream magazine covers fronted by talented black celebrities and models including Beyoncé for American Vogue, Rihanna for British Vogue, Tracee Ellis Ross for Elle Canada, Issa Rae for Ebony, and Zendaya for Marie Claire. Racial diversity on runway shows has been tracked by The Fashion Spot for the past 4 years and this year’s report revealed that booked models of color across fashion weeks in New York, Milan, London, and Paris increased by 3.6 percentage points this season to 36.1% of all castings; some designers even opted for a majority or all-black casting such as Esteban Cortezar, Maki Oh, and CUSHNIE for Spring / Summer 2019.

 “Amilna” by Freddie L. Rankin II / Photo Courtesy of FLRS Global

“Amilna” by Freddie L. Rankin II / Photo Courtesy of FLRS Global

It is no surprise then that models are some of the biggest beneficiaries of the call for greater equity in fashion. They are supported by a digital community of fans and followers who are charting their successes and championing their causes. The start of building a prominent career for a model starts behind the scenes, with the photographers, agents, casting directors, and brands who ultimately help to shape the direction of a budding talent. Despite the very real adversities to a more inclusive industry, black models are capitalizing on the current cultural tailwinds with campaigns, runway appearances, magazine covers, and much more.

We are beyond pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition The Inverse Color Perspective: The Age of the Black Model curated by our chief editor in New York. The works by artist Freddie L. Rankin II capture a subset of 42 models from throughout the diaspora behind the scenes of fashion weeks in New York, Milan, and Paris over the course of four years. In many cases, the subjects were experiencing their first runway shows destined to become global superstars. Within the high-intensity chaos of backstage, Rankin sought to depict these women as they are, often finding quiet moments to illustrate a sense of purity and openness. All shot on medium format film, these images serve as record that they were there.

To celebrate the new exhibition, we will host our second IRL program in a private tour on the afternoon of Saturday, October 13. Tour slots are limited, RSVP below and let us know your favorite black models from the diaspora on Instagram using #AgeOfTheBlackModel. Timing details will be shared with confirmed attendees. See you this weekend!

The Inverse Color Perspective: The Age of the Black Model is open now at Okay Space Gallery.

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Timing details will be shared with confirmed attendees.