NYFW is in full swing and this season might have the most inclusive model casts yet.
On Sunday, lingerie label, AnaOno collaborated with #Cancerland for an empowering fashion show that featured real women who were also breast cancer survivors. The designer behind the brand, Dana Donofree is known for providing women who have undergone a mastectomy, breast reconstruction or breast surgery an option for comfortable bras and other lingerie, that not only fit, but make them feel sexy. At the show, a few of the women proudly showed off their breast scars while strutting the catwalk in a powerful display of courage, bravery, and survival.
That same day, 10 year-old drag kid, “Desmond the Amazing” (his real name is Desmond Napoles) stole the show at Gypsy Sport‘s runway show. The young drag kid had his hair frosted and slicked down. He wore a an oversized black blazer with an Elizabethan style ruffled neck. The sleeves were editorialized, scrunched up and his waist cinched by a wide black band. Every glide he strut on the catwalk was made with intention and style. A skill he closely studied beforehand by watching old ’90s Anna Sui runway videos in a statement to The Cut. But at only 10, Napoles has not only walked in his first major fashion show, he is also the founder of Haus of Amazing, “the first and only drag house for kids.” Napoles first rose to prominence in 2015 after he was spotted dancing and twirling in a rainbow tutu dress at the NYC Pride Parade. In 2017, he “slayed” the runway at RuPaul’s DragCon. Now, in 2018 Napoles was modeled the Gypsy Sport runway alongside an inclusive cast with Shannon & Shannade Clermont, gender fluid model Jazzelle, plus size models, and more.
A few days prior, Telfar Clemens broke tradition with a “concert” in lieu of a runway show made up of all-black musicians: Dev Hynes, Ian Isiah, Selah Marley, Kelela, Kelsey Lu, and Angel who modeled the clothes while performing. “We are not alone in questioning the show and season systems — so we are using fashion week to start to define something that can break free from it and be suited specifically to our vision. For us, this means working collaboratively with musicians and artists — not in the sense of “endorsement” and celebrity BS, but in a truly creative way to start figuring out a different cultural platform,” Clemens tells i-D.
The clothes were deemed unisex, something Clemens also has been implementing since the early 2000s before many designers embraced it. But it wasn’t until 2017 that Clemens became formally recognized by Vogue and much of the industry after winning the prestigious CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund.
The runner up in the competition to Clemens was Becca McCharren-Tran, of Chromat who also staged her fashion show the same day with an incredible display of women of all colors, size, and shapes—something McCharren-Tran, too, has been doing for quite some time. In her show, a woman with visible breast scars displayed her chest proudly, cinching her green caftan dress together to expose her scars. Mia Michaels, famed dance choreographer of So You Think You Can Dance made a surprise appearance showing off her curves in a black-and-red-color-block dress. The show also included an amputee and a hijabi model.
PH5 also cast a mix of real women, including two girls from the Girls Who Code program, an NICU nurse, a sculptor, and more.
Though, It was only a matter of time before New York Men’s Fashion Week followed in the footsteps of Fashion Week when it comes to inclusivity.
The fall 2018 Fashion Week: Men’s got off to a great start thanks to a handful of labels. Krammer & Stoudt’s Autumn/Winter 18 collection was inspired by two people, according to the New York Times: playwright Sam Shepard and Terra Juano, a model known on Instagram as TJ or Skinnybonejones.
And while Krammer & Stoudt’s show was a part of Men’s Fashion Week, there were no men in this show. And no women, either. Married couple Mike Rubin and Courtenay Nearburg made a revolutionary move to cast only nonbinary models in their show. Their soft yet rugged, stylish while still practical designs hung from the bodies of genderless figures: a model with short cropped blond hair looking dapper in a blue velvet suit, a model with a short Afro in a kimono-style robe, hats of all sizes atop shaved heads. Along with Terra Juano were gender-fluid and Instagram-famous models, such as Madison Paige, Rain Dove, and Merika Palmiste.
And while seeing such feminine figures in a men’s fashion show could be distracting, after a few looks, onlookers stopped seeing gender altogether. It was just beautiful people in beautiful clothing.
Willy Chavarria, a queer Chicano designer known for his streetwear-inspired collection infused with a bit of punk and edge, staged a show with a similarly nontraditional cast. Always one to shake things up, Chavarria cast a diverse array of models for this show. Owning the runway in “protective, comfortable clothing,” as Chavarria describes the collection, were an amputee, a woman, “real people” sprinkled in with professional models, and a baby.
And it’s become somewhat of a trend. ASOS staged a formal show during NYFW for the first time, debuting its autumn-winter 2018 menswear collection. Rather than using traditional models, “ASOS cast some of its favorite guys, who continue to inspire the brand with their talent and passion across a range of industries, including fashion, food, music, and social activism,” the company wrote in a press release. Not all of these men were models, like Adam Eli Werner, a queer activist and writer, who looked sleek in a black button-down and shiny light pants.
Meanwhile, women’s fashion continues to strive for greater diversity. Fashion label Teatum Jones is known for casting paralympians and amputees, and the September 2017 New York Fashion Week was the most diverse one yet. Not only did we see more plus models on the runways than in any other year in NYFW’s history, but we saw plus-exclusive shows like Addition Elle and Torrid, and queer fashion showcases like Dapper Q.
We can’t wait to see how NYFW in 2018 continues to unfold and add to the inclusive fashion conversation.
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