Call at Rio fashion show for more black models

Call at Rio fashion show for more black models

Agence France-Presse

Only a handful of black models sashayed down the catwalk at this week’s Rio fashion show, sparking fresh calls for quotas to ensure greater diversity in a country where more than half of the population is of African ancestry.

Some 24 labels displayed their latest designs at the Rio de Janeiro winter 2012 fashion week, that ran from Wednesday to Saturday, and as in previous years the models were overwhelmingly white.

Yet Brazil, home to 190 million people, has the world’s second largest black population after Nigeria.

Organizers refused to address this perennial lack of racial diversity, although in the past they claimed that “there is no racial discrimination” in an industry known for its preference for eurocentric standards of beauty.

For the first time in June 2009, the Sao Paulo Fashion Week (SPFW)—Latin America’s premier fashion event—imposed quotas requiring at least 10 percent of the models to be black or indigenous…

…Luana Genot, one of the eight black models out of more 200 employed by the main Rio modeling agency, 40° Models, gave details of the hurdles blacks face.

“They call us only when the the theme of the show is linked to black culture,” said the 23-year-old who is also an advertising student at Rio Catholic University (PUC).

“I am often told: What am I going to do with your hair? And for make-up, I am always the last so as not to dirty the brush with overly dark tones,” she added.

Last June, during Black Consciousness Week, Genot organized a debate on “ethnic diversity in fashion” at PUC.

We are told that the winter collection is for whites in Europe or that black women’s butts are too big, their hips too wide. I am shocked to see that in Brazil, where more than half of the people are descendants of black slaves, there is so little space for us,” she added.

“Brazil’s population is very mixed and this must be reflected in fashion,” Genot said…

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