So, you've probably seen, heard or read by now that Prada released it's Spring/Summer 2014 ad campaign starring Anna Ewers, Cindy Bruna, Sabrina Ioffreda, Ashleigh Good, Amanda Murphy, Ophelie Guillermand, Lexi Boling, Ola Rudnicka, Julia Bergshoeff, Lieke Van Houten, Magdalena Jasek and Maggie Jablonski by Steven Meisel.
It seems like just about every big fashion blog has responded by writing pieces with headlines such as: "Prada Cast a Woman of Color Yet Again in Its Latest Ad", "Prada Casts Black Model for Spring 2014 Campaign, Third Woman of Color Featured in Prada Campaign", "At Long Last, Prada Adds A Little Diversity To Their Ad Campaigns With Malaika Firth" (probably referring to the uncropped photo of the campaign, which may or may not be the final image, see it after the break below), "Prada Cast Another Model of Color" ... and many more like this. Other sites, such as the one that posted a piece entitled, "Prada Casts a Black Model in Spring Campaign, We are Unimpressed", are using this as an opportunity to talk about racism in fashion, a noble endeavor.
The Prada ad is gorgeous. The subsequent dissection of the campaign, however, is not so appealing. Here's an idea: Instead of acting like Prada cast a model with 4 arms or something truly weird like that, we treat Cindy like every other model cast in the campaign (there are 11 others); as a beautiful model, worthy of being cast in a Prada campaign.
I'm all for talking openly and honestly about important issues in fashion - diversity in fashion is one of them (and yes, it would be nice to see more than one token black model in so many ad campaigns) and yes, it is noteworthy that Bruna is only the third black model to star in a Prada ad campaign - but at what point can we move past the labeling that results in articles like the ones I listed above. It is limiting and it is indisputably undermining any progression that we are making to diversify the fashion industry. It is as simple as that. Much like that Harper's Bazaar "Diversity" editorial was a complete joke, dissecting ad campaigns and labeling the models is NOT progression. But by singling Bruna out as "the black model", we are essentially treating her as a non-equal.
It seems clear that only once we move past the belief that black models are somehow different than white models or Asian models will we ever have a real amount of GENUINE diversity in fashion, and maybe we will move past the tokenism that is so prevalent in this as campaign and in the industry as a whole. So, instead of labeling Cindy and commenting on how Prada cast a black model, let's see the ad for what it is: Beautiful.