Models backstage at Nasir Mazhar SS15

Working in fashion is wonderful, I love it, and there is no more exciting time than fashion week. The sheer number of new ideas literally marching towards your face, in 20 minute blasts ten times a day, is exhilarating. But one idea that doesn’t seem to change very much is the narrow body and beauty ‘ideal’ so strictly adhered to in the casting of models for the runway. It can be disheartening to see show after show filled with very thin, very young, very white models. Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with a model being any of those things, so long as she is healthy. But it is problematic when this ‘look’ is favoured alone, to the exclusion of all other body shapes, sizes, ages and skin tones.

With designers redefining our concept of “fashion” at a daily rate during fashion week, London is arguably the most exciting fashion capital in the world. Home to some of the best art and fashion colleges found globally, and with extensive funding initiatives to help the very top talent launch their businesses, we have the most challenging, subversive and indeed diverse designers on the planet. And the good news is, a whole raft of them appear to agree with the All Walks mantra:

FASHION IS BORING WHEN EVERYBODY LOOKS THE SAME

It is easy to focus on the negatives and list the designers who used no black models, no asian models, not once deviating from the white/young/thin trope. Or those who cynically cast “one of each” for the sole purpose of not appearing on that list. But we want to celebrate the designers who did something more interesting, who broke with the old and ushered in the new, showing us what #DiversityNOW really looks like. And it looks amazing. From Nasir Mazhar, who presented models in a range of sizes, shapes and skin tones, to Meadham Kirchhoff who held an open castings to discover a diverse range of beauties who do not fit the model norm. While not being very diverse, the casting at Ashish of all black models rather eloquently disproved the oft-spouted claim that designers “would love to cast more black models, but that there just aren’t enough of them”. He also booked Chantelle Winnie, the striking former ANTM contestant whose vitiligo has made her one of the most uniquely beautiful models in fashion today.

In no particular order, here are our diversity heroes for SS15:

Ashish

…and the amazing Chantelle Winnie

palmer//harding

…and beautiful Jan Strimple

Meadham Kirchhoff

… and their street-cast models

Claire Barrow

…and friend of All Walks Naomi Shimada

Teatum Jones

…and the spectacular Enchorus gospel choir

Nasir Mazhar

Ed Marler – Fashion East

Vivienne Westwood Red Label

…and granddaughter Cora Corre

 

KTZ

Sadie Clayton

 

Did you see any amazing examples of diversity at fashion week? Let us know on Facebook.com/AllWalks or on Twitter @AllWalksCatwalk.

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Charlotte Gush is the Online Editor for All Walks.

Charlotte writes about fashion, music and culture for publications including Dazed Digital and Phoenix magazine, and she is the Web Coordinator at London College of Fashion.

Find Charlotte on Twitter @CharlotteGush