When #BlackoutTuesday morphed from its initial music industry day of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement to a social media moment for the wider public, a variety of brands quickly followed.
One by one, designers and fashion labels added messages of support in the form of the little black squares that quickly took over feeds. Some went further, with donation pledges. For the majority of the brands, it was the first time they had ever spoken out against racism in a public forum.
That support may have been an historical first, but many are now questioning its authenticity as industry insiders respond with accusations of behind-the-scenes discrimination.
On Tuesday, Celine posted a message on its Instagram account: “Celine stands against all forms of discrimination, oppression and racism. Tomorrow’s world will not exist without equality for all,” read the text in its little black box.
Shortly after, celebrity stylist Jason Bolden commented on the brand’s post: “Wait really, u (SIC) guys dnt dress any black celebs unless they have a white stylist. FACTS.” The exchange was documented on Diet Prada’s account, which also broke down the percentages of black models that have walked in the brand’s shows six shows since Hedi Slimane became the French fashion house’s creative, artistic and image director in 2018. The post ended with a scroll through Slimane’s photo archives, which showed his signature black-and-white photos featuring only white subjects.
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Celebrity stylist @JasonBolden called out French luxury brand @Celine for performative #BlackLivesMatter solidarity. Bolden, who dresses some of Hollywood’s brightest Black talents like Cynthia Erivo, Taraji P Henson, Janet Mock, and Yara Shahidi, commented the LVMH-owned brand’s post, stating that they don’t dress Black celebrities unless they have a white stylist. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ @HediSlimane , Celine’s creative director and the man responsible for axing Phoebe Philo’s beloved É, has been a subject of conversation among the industry before for his apparent aversion to Black models. In case you didn’t know, we crunched some numbers for you from all his runway shows thus far: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Spring 2019: 6% (6 out of 96 exits) Fall 2019 Men’s: 8% (5 out of 66 exits) Fall 2019 Womenswear: 12% (7 out of 59 exits) Spring 2020 Menswear: 6% (3 out of 51 exits) Spring 2020 Womenswear: 9% (6 out of 64 exits) Fall 2020: 9% (10 out of 111 exits) • #blm #celine #lvmh #hedislimane
When reached, Celine had no comment on the accusation.
Italian fashion brand Salvatore Ferragamo also came under fire. After posting a black square with the #BlackoutTuesday hashtag, it followed with an image of hands and a quote from Nelson Mandela in its caption. “Reaching for a more egalitarian future. Racism must end now. #BlackLivesMatter,” read the statement that followed.
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“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”⠀ ― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Reaching for a more egalitarian future. Racism must end now. Black Lives Matter.
Actor Tommy Dorfman responded by reposting the image on their story feed, which was captured by Diet Prada. (Dorfman is gender-nonconforming and goes by the pronouns they/them.) “It is imperative to call out companies that you know to be racist during this time. I did not do my part in doing this months ago when they showed their true selves,” wrote Dorfman. The actor detailed numerous instances of alleged discrimination while working with the brand to cast models for and photograph its Viva shoe campaign for spring ’20, which featured actresses Kiersey Clemons, Camila Mendes, Paloma Elsesser and Olivia Sui.
“I heard directly from their creative director that they asked if, in photoshop, they could make a black model white,” Dorfman said. It is unclear if Dorfman was referring to Ferragamo creative director Paul Andrew, but the photo shoot is credited to him.
When reached, Ferragamo had no comment.
We will be updating this story as needed.