Apparently not everyone shares our view that Raf Simons can do no wrong. When Buzzfeed reached out to a bunch of casting directors to inquire about why the vast majority (about 90%) of the models that walked in the recent fashion month were white, James Scully (the casting director for Tom Ford, Jason Wu, Derek Lam, Stella McCartney, Lanvin & Carolina Herrera) went straight for Raf - essentially calling the designer a racist. He said: "I feel the Dior cast is just so pointedly white that it feels deliberate. I watch that show and it bothers me — I almost can’t even concentrate on the clothes because of the cast. And recently they’re changing from a very diverse, worldwide, multicultural cast to just a very Germanic-looking white girl. Natalie Portman could complain that John Galliano was a racist, but I feel [Dior designer] Raf Simons sends the same message." Also not spared from criticism by Scully: Simons' buddy (aka "rival") Hedi Slimane.
Barbara Nicoli (who did the casting for Burberry, Marchesa, Gucci, Emilio Pucci, Armani Privé & Saint Laurent) made some very interesting points regarding race. Nicoli says: "I think, personally, I like a model if she's a beauty. Sometimes what I disagree with is putting a black girl [in a show] just because you need diversity. I love black girls. I'm a big fan of Joan Smalls. I would really like to put her in every casting, but sometimes she's not right for some castings and she's much better in others ... I don't like to talk in terms of white, Asian, black, etc., because a model is a model and that's it. To me, if we want to talk about diversity, it's about the model and not the color of their skin. It's more about the body, the face, and the attitude."
I think Nicoli makes valid points. Diversity is not just about race. It is (or at least should be) derived from any number of factors. Further, casting directors should be free to cast whatever models they deem to most thoroughly embody the brand at issue, without being forced to take anything else into consideration. Please share your opinions with us in the comments below!