Black Model Recreates Fashion Shoots Of White Models
That just about sums up the central message from Liberian model Deddeh Howard, who is going viral for a thought-provoking visual project that focuses on race in fashion.
The idea from Howard is straight-forward: produce a series of photos inspired by the most notable fashion shoots around, and replace the original models with a black woman — herself.
In one example from her project, she reenacts a Calvin Klein ad featuring Jenner.
The project is titled "Black Mirror," and features renditions of campaigns from many of the biggest names in fashion, like Louis Vuitton, Victoria's Secret and Dolce & Gabbana.
On her website, Howard states the series was inspired by experiences in which she'd gotten rejected by agencies because "they already have a black model." On the site, she wrote,
It seemed as if one or two black models on the roster are enough to represent us all. When you are told that, trust me, it feels bizarre. For this project I decided to re-shoot several of the inspiring and famous campaigns out there and try to show what they could look like with a black model.
As for perspective on just how many models of color are represented in fashion shows, the most reliable numbers seem to come from Fashion Spot, which has been cited by the likes of the LA Times and Elle UK for its "diversity reports."
The reports catalog the number of models who walk on the runway for major brands during various seasons. The site's latest report found that of all models who walked during this past fall's various fashion weeks (in New York, London, Paris and Milan), just over 25 percent were models of color.
The report also notes that the number shows an increase in diversity, despite the figure being "far from where it needs to be."
And Howard made a case for why those numbers matter:
The visibility on these commercials and billboards matter as much as having elected a first black president. The next generation can only get inspired and reach for the stars themselves if they believe they can do it too. For that reason diversity in ad campaigns is in my opinion much more important than you might think.
Howard produced the produced with photographer Raffael Dickreuter. The full series of photos can be found on her personal website.