Dior Finally Casts Black Models

Raf Simons's fall couture collection for Dior just walked the runway, and numerous models of color walked including six black models: Alek Wek, Grace Mahary, Joan Smalls, Maria Borges, Kelly Moreira and Yasmin Warsame. That makes them the first black models to have ever graced the runway for Dior under Raf Simons's creative direction.
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Leah Chernikoff
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Raf Simons's fall couture collection for Dior just walked the runway, and numerous models of color walked including six black models: Alek Wek, Grace Mahary, Joan Smalls, Maria Borges, Kelly Moreira and Yasmin Warsame. That makes them the first black models to have ever graced the runway for Dior under Raf Simons's creative direction.
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Time for us to eat our words--and we're happy to do it. Just a few hours ago we reported that Jourdan Dunn had been cut from Dior because of the size of her boobs (she said they wouldn't fit into the corsets). We noted it was really a shame since Raf Simons's runways for Dior have been glaringly white, and could have benefited from Dunn on the lineup. Dunn herself tweeted, “I’m normally told I’m cancelled because I’m ‘coloured’ so being cancelled because off my boobs is a minor : )”

Well, Raf Simons's Dior couture show just wrapped, and numerous women of color walked, including six black models: Alek Wek, Grace Mahary, Joan Smalls, Maria Borges, Kelly Moreira and Yasmin Warsame.

That makes them the first black models to have ever graced the runway for Dior under Raf Simons's creative direction. (A handful of Asian models have walked in Simons's shows for Dior.) It's about damn time. Simons has produced seven collections for Dior since he took the reins last year (his first collection for the house was fall 2012 couture) and not a single black model walked the runway or appeared in a resort look book in the previous six collections.

Maybe Simons and Dior got wind of industry insiders reacting to the white washed casting. Earlier this year casting director James Scully called Dior out on Buzzfeed, noting "I feel the Dior cast is just so pointedly white that it feels deliberate. I watch that show and it bothers me — I almost can’t even concentrate on the clothes because of the cast." We've heard that Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes cast Simons’s shows for Dior--they also cast the traditionally white-runways for Jil Sander and Calvin Klein, too. Maybe Dior hired new casting directors or maybe the powers that be just wised up.

Still, the casting could be seen as problematic, given the theme of the collection.

According to an Instagram from Vogue Paris the collection was inspired by Dior couture's global clientele from across the four continents: Europe, Asia, America, Africa. Other first hand reports from the show state more generally that the show was inspired by the four continents--not necessarily the couture clientele. Writing for Vogue UK, Jessica Bumpus reviewed this most recent couture collection as a "more multi-cultural take - moving away from the idea of this being just a quintessentially French brand and putting it out there as one of the world... This was Dior as seen through the filter of an African tribesman or a Geisha girl."

We'll write about the clothes later--they looked gorgeous. But we're really hoping this diverse casting wasn't just an anomaly to reflect a "multi-culti" "African tribesman" "Geisha girl" theme.