Porter Edit’s October 26 2018 issue turns its focus on supermodel, makeup entrepreneur, humanitarian and champion of black women’s rights: IMAN. Tracy Taylor styles the fashion icon in trench coats and utilitarian suitings from Michael Kors, Victoria Beckham, Joseph, Chloe and more for images by Hanna Tveite.
Jane Mulkerrings conducts the interview that touches on many topics from IMAN’s discovery by legendary photographer Peter Beard to her constant grief over the loss of her husband David Bowie.
It’s her focus on the fashion industry and her own activism on behalf of models of color that demands our focus, educating even me on the activism of IMAN, Bethann Hardison and Naomi Campbell’s launching of a campaign in September 2013 to force a reckoning over the dearth of models of color on the catwalk.
The trio sent an open letter to the heads of fashion’s governing bodies in New York, London, Paris and Milan under the umbrella of their newly-formed Diversity Coalition, warning that: “Eyes are on an industry that season after season watches design houses consistently use one or no models of color.” The coalition then listed the designers and fashion houses it said were “guilty of this racist act”.
The need for clarification ensued at the time, and Iman reiterated the group’s position on ‘Good Morning America’, saying in 2013: "This is not the business of shaming. As we go back to clarify this, no one is calling any of these designers racist. The act itself is racist. There were more black models working in the Seventies than there are in 2013. This a time where silence is not acceptable at all. If the conversation cannot be had publicly in our industry, then there is something inherently wrong."
The desperate tactic worked, writes Mulkerrings for Porter Edit . “It is remarkable,” Iman declares, as we settle at a table in the restaurant. “We are getting visible results. Not only on the runway, but where the spoils of war are: advertising. If you pick up the magazines and look at the ads, the change is visible.” And the speed of their success is, she believes, down to social media. “When we posted the letter on social media, everyone knew, so the designers were taken to task. Everybody has a voice now, and change happens fast.”
At AOC we see this pace of a primary place for models of color in the fashion industry escalating dramatically in 2017-2018. IMAN is totally correct is affirming that the changes are not only visible but blindingly so. It’s dazzling, frankly. Nobody gets a gold star for taking what was the right path all along. Nevertheless, the changes are breathtaking and a moment of joy for me personally as a citizen of Trumplandia.