All Walks has become a powerful voice on the importance of of Diversity in front of the camera.
Today we are also calling for Diversity BEHIND the camera too. In our lectures across the UK we’ve begun to talk about the proliferation of hyper-sexualised imagery that makes its way into fashion. Students are shocked when we display images by top creatives that portray young women as objectified or infantalised and glamourise rape-culture.
Our question, one of ethics and morality as well as equality and diversity, is simply this…If creative teams were full of opinionated, confident, men and women from diverse cultures, would such unevolved out-put be tolerated?
“And so we come to fashion, featuring sexually posturing, naked adolescent girls, models faking arousal with milky ‘come;’ on their faces or female torsos with legs wide open, their shaved vulva framing a fragrance bottle. These make for confusing messages too. Although in an environment where the female body is routinely, manipulated, contorted and controlled, why not? Fashion joins music to reveal itself to be the perfect grow-bag for more misogyny.” More
The Guardian‘s Hadley Freeman writing just after my feature was published noted…
“What marks Richardson out, though, is he has been repeatedly accused of sexual harassing young women modelling for him. Websites such as Jezebel and TheGloss have done commendable work over the years in publicising the experiences of these models, giving them the space to tell their stories without fear, and their reports make for horrendous if not all that surprising reading.
This is a man with a tremendous amount of personal power, abusing his position and taking advantage of young, vulnerable women who don’t feel able to speak up because they know it would cost them their jobs.” More
Jezebel website has lead the way in criticising the fashion industry for it’s complicity and inertia.
“One fashion insider says agencies “know full well Richardson’s predatory behaviour ” but that he “is tolerated because the industry folk are just sheep. There are only a handful of photographers who have the power, a handful of editors who have the power, and a handful of clients who have the power. Everyone else just follows this small group of people.” In a multi-billion-dollar industry where the product is subject to a high level of uncertainty — will this be the look of the season or will that? Will this trend take off or will that one? — people tend to cluster around the handful of people who are powerful enough to actually influence outcomes. Because Richardson carries the dual stamp of editorial approval of Anna Wintour and her French counterpart Carine Roitfeld, and because he also shoots for behemoth commercial clients like H&M, his entrenchment in the fashion pantheon is virtually complete.” More
There are bigger issues at play than the work of individuals no matter how powerful they are and a recent film: Sex Baby promoted by our friends at Miss Representation looks at mainstream messaging to young women.
“The digital age has been upon us for quite a while; Sexy Baby takes note of the fact and explores what it means to be a part of a generation that has grown up with pornography at their fingertips. Several books have been published in recent years that express concern over what this kind of reality means for our culture as a whole. The trailer highlights this with its attention to the 12 year-old-subject of the film.”
Some debates are crucial and at All Walks we believe the Equality and Diversity debate is paramount. What do you think?
Former fashion editor and co-editor of i-D Magazine for 6 years in the early eighties, Caryn Franklin has been a fashion commentator for 31 years. She presented the BBC’s Clothes Show for 12 years and BBC’s Style Challenge for 3 years as well as producing and presenting numerous documentaries for ITV on designers including Vivienne Westwood, Philip Treacy and Matthew Williamson.
Working in education throughout her career as external assessor and lecturer in colleges like Central St Martins, London College of fashion and Royal College of Art, she is also an ardent fashion activist and has co-chaired the award winning Fashion Targets Breast Cancer for 17 years and proposed the London College of Fashion Centre of Sustainability and is its ambassador.
Follow Caryn on Twitter: @Caryn_franklin