It’s couture week in Paris and the dresses are bigger and sparklier than ever. The glitz and the drama are overshadowed a bit, however, by the casting choices. We did some math, and according to our numbers, some couture shows had casts that were as much as 72% Caucasian. And if we single out black women? In one show featuring over 90 looks, only 11 black women walked.
Each year, Karl Lagerfeld ends the Chanel Couture show by sending a model—hand selected by the creative director himself—down the runway in an unconventional wedding gown, along with the fashion house’s resident kid model, Hudson Kroenig. At this year’s Chanel Haute Couture Fall 2018 show in Paris, Sudanese model Adut Akech Bior made history as the second black model to close out the Chanel Couture show, joining the likes of Chanel bride alums like Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevingne, Luna Bijl, and more.
Bior was dressed in a mint green two-piece tweed suit featuring a foliage pattern, embellished with sequins on the front of the jacket and along the sides of the skirt. Before Bior graced the Chanel Couture runway, fellow Sudanese model Alek Wek became the first black model to land the prestigious honour in 2004.
(Alex Wek previously stole the show as Chanel’s bride during the fall 2004 couture show wearing a feather cape). In pistachio no less, Adut Akech proudly walked beside the Kaiser. And while rumours continue to swirl that this could be his last show (or at the very least, one of them) it’s quite telling that the brand’s decision makers decidedly chose this casting. The conversation was turned not to his retirement, or even to the clothes, necessarily, but to the cultural implications of the race of his bride.