While the term "diversity" is definitely a hot topic in the fashion world right now, not every brand necessarily understands the concept in full.
On Thursday, Gucci shared a series of audition videos via Instagram for their pre-fall 2017 campaign. All of the models showcased were black, which, at first, was thrilling to see as the high-end retailer seems to mostly work with white talent. But after watching the tapes, something felt a bit off-putting.
During the auditions, the models were asked a series of questions, including: "What's your spirit animal?" (which is an overall big no-no) and "What does it mean to have soul?" (which can be seen as stereotyping). Finally, they were asked to dance to Duke Browner's "Crying Over You."
Now, of course, Gucci's creative direction for the full campaign is still up for debate and discussion. And while using models of colour is definitely a good thing to keep the fashion industry progressive, it can only work when executives are being mindful of potential racist undertones.
Last November, rapper Desiigner performed his single "Tiimmy Turner" for Anna Wintour and other Vogue heavy hitters. Some praised the Brooklyn, New York native for pushing the envelope of the high fashion publication, while others were left feeling a bit uncomfortable after watching. One DJ Booth writer even compared the performance to a minstrel show.
"This look like some slave auction type shit surprised they didn't ask him to tap dance ," one user commented under the YouTube video uploaded by Vogue.
"Something about this doesn't sit right with me... :/ ," said another.
Watch Desiigner perform for Vogue below.
Last September, Trinidadian-Canadian model Shivani Persad told HuffPost Canada Style that she fears the concept of diversity in the fashion industry may only be an illusion.
"Honestly I'm very scared that it's just a trend," she said. "I'm scared that it's convenient because of what's happening in the world right now. I'm scared people are picking up on it to seem 'socially conscious' but they're really just bullshitters. There's a part of me that prays it's real. I mean, I'm going to try my best to make it real because for me, the stuff I experience isn't a trend — it's my life."
In 2011, Gucci faced a racism lawsuit involving Rihanna after being called out by a tax lawyer who previously worked for the company. The suit claimed the former employee was told to "tax the hell out of" the singer and find a way to allow Gucci to "withhold 30 per cent of her fee" after finding out the Grammy winner was from Barbados.
Nonetheless, here's to hoping the luxury retailer has learned from its mistakes and the new campaign is done tastefully. It would be amazing to see more models of colour continued to be showcased in high fashion in a genuine and progressive light.
Check out more of the audition tapes below.
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