Will Fashion Hold Tight To Its Embrace Of Black Model Beauty? Here's Hoping

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Will Fashion Hold Tight To Its Embrace Of Black Model Beauty? Here's Hoping

Tiya Miles is a professor of American culture and history at the University of Michigan, as a member of the Program in American Culture, Center for Afro-American and African Studies and Native American Studies Program.  In 2011 Miles won a five-year grant MacArthur Fellowship for her intellectual prowess -- which is to say that Tiya Miles knows that's going on in her world.  

When the topic is models, Miles believes that Hollywood, fashion and beauty businesses are responding to the popular public movements demanding change. The changes are worldwide, but when the subject is fashion models, the lens centers on New York, London, Milan and Paris. Striking an ironic note, Miles sees our growing consciousness of the "importance of visibility and voclaity for people of color, particularly black people" as a positive outcome of the threatening rise of white nationalist identity across America and Europe.

“It is no coincidence that this runway model trend and movies like 'Black Panther' "have arrived at the same time," Prof. Miles told the New York Times after the Fall 2018 fashion shows. "The two are interlocked, as both have been incubating in what feels a like a growing crusade with many of the hallmarks of the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s. They are part of a pushback against the dominant pressures of European and American white centrality.”

Karen Elson Joins Model Alliance Board As It Embraces Fashion Industry's Trickle Down Effect On Women

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Karen Elson Joins Model Alliance Board As It Embraces Fashion Industry's Trickle Down Effect On Women

One of the industry's most prominent models Karen Elson recently joined the Model Alliance's board of directors. Sara Ziff and the Model Alliance came into existence in 2012 with the mission of promoting the fair treatment, safety, overall working conditions and mental health of models. More prominent now than ever, we note a new evolution in the group's mission that includes a need to embrace fashion's trickle-down effect and its impact in the larger population. 

This week Elson joined the Model Alliance's board of directors and its founding director Ziff in a chat in Rachel Comey's Crosby Street store. On hand were editors, agents and designers, along with a lot of young models, writes Vogue. 

Ziff and Elson reviewed the basic accountability steps that the industry is taking to address the 'job' of being a model. Fresh -- if not new -- commentary in the presentation focused on the trickle-down effect that the fashion industry has on women's self-images and the larger culture. Elson shared her thoughts:

Eye: Lawsuit Filed Against Photographer Bruce Weber In New York Supreme Court For Sexual Harassment

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Ex-model Jason Boyce, who has appeared in Lexus and Amazon ads, filed suit against Bruce Weber in the New York Supreme Court alleging the iconic fashion photographer sexually harassed the male model in December of 2014. The suit was filed on behalf of Boyce by civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom, well-known for representing accusers in high profile cases involving accusers of Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby and John Coyers. Bloom has also been widely criticized for her controversial representation of Harvey Weinstein until dropping him as a client in October. With the publicizing of Boyce’s suit, 31-year-old Mark Ricketson has alleged a similar history with Weber, saying he too was a victim of Weber's sexual harassment in 2005. Prosecution is not possible in Ricketson’s case, as the statue of limitations has expired. 

Eye: Edie Campbell Is Fashion Industry Oracle, Joining Cameron Russell In Fight Against Model Exploitation

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Eye: Edie Campbell Is Fashion Industry Oracle, Joining Cameron Russell In Fight Against Model Exploitation

Top model Edie Campbell graces the December 2017 issue of Vogue China, lensed by Patrick Demarchelier with styling by Daniela Paudice./ Makeup by Romy Soleimani; hair by Ward

Ironically, Campbell is styled as a possible muse from an ancient Greek temple like the famous one at Delphi. Occupation of the site at Delphi can be traced to the Neolithic period with extensive use beginning in the Mycenaean period (1600-1100 BC), a time we associate with the fall of the goddesses in cultural worship and the rise of patriarchy, which established deep roots in ancient Greece. The name 'Delphoi' comes from the same root as δελφύς delphys, "womb" and may indicate archaic veneration of Gaia at the site, writes Wiki. An oracle was a priest or priestess -- originally we believe it was primarily women as priestesses -- acting as a medium through whom advice or prophecy was sought from the gods in classical antiquity.

Enough with ancient history of the goddesses. Edie Campbell became a fashion industry muse and oracle this week, writing an open letter published by Women's Wear Daily, in which she highlights the abuse of all models, including men.  In a maverick twist, Campbell suggests that in the fashion industry, the abuse of male models is every bit as serious as among the women. 

“We have a problem: we operate within a culture that is too accepting of abuse, in all of its manifestations. This can be the ritual humiliation of models, belittling of assistants, power plays and screaming fits. We have come to see this as simply a part of the job.”

Campbell’s letter is in response to the Instagram campaign to raise awareness of sexual exploitation of models started in October by the US model Cameron Russell.

Here is Edie Campbell's letter in full:

Actor Abbey Lee Talks Model Industry, Saying There's No Security In Getting Paid For Your Looks

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Actor Abbey Lee Talks Model Industry, Saying There's No Security In Getting Paid For Your Looks

Anne is reading … 

Abbey Lee: ‘There is no security in getting paid for your looksThe Guardian

Australian actor and model Abbey Lee (Kershaw) is blunt about the fashion industry in her sit-down with writer Alexandra Spring. Largely gone from the fashion spotlight these days, Abbey Lee is focused on her acting career, appearing in George Miller’s ‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ an upcoming action flick ‘Gods of Egypt’ and now ‘Ruben Guthrie’.

Filmwriter-director Brendan Cowell’s “celebrated stage play”, will be a film about an alcoholic ad exec who receives an ultimatum to stop drinking by his supermodel girlfriend Zoya.  

Lee says she could see Cowell’s point in an email delineating the parallels between Zoya and Abbey Lee for real. “[Zoya’s] decision to leave something that was bad for her – that might have been a really hard decision for her to make – and venture into something unknown was something I was going through at that very time.”

Coincidentally, Abbey Lee is writing her own semi-autobiographical film about addiction, although she refused to discuss it in this interview.  Read on in Fashion & Style. 

 

Ashley Graham Tells TED: I'm Bold, Beautiful & Brilliant Even With Back Fat

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Ashley Graham Tells TED: I’m Bold, Beautiful & Brilliant Even With Back Fat

IMG model Ashley Graham gave one of the most inspiring talks ever before a sold-out audience of 450 people in Valencia, Spain during an April 2015 TEDxBerkleeValencia event. Watch it here.

Dominating the stage with confidence and enthusiasm for her commitment to being a body-image activist for all women, Graham who is a 27-year-old Nebraska native said:

‘My body, like my confidence, has been picked apart, manipulated, and controlled by others who didn’t necessarily understand it. I had to learn to reclaim my body as my own, and in reclaiming my body as my own, I understood as a woman that I had a greater purpose to redefine feminine beauty.’