After witnessing Kanye West's Yeezy Season 3 fashion extravaganza at Madison Square Garden, which featured exclusively models of color, I thought there wouldn't be another fashion show that could match its diversity. Sure, there was diversity at Sophie Thaellat and Chromat—most notably both included plus size models in their shows. And there was the thought-provoking statement about blackness and mental illness at Pyer Moss's show. But then: Zac Posen sent 42 models of color (40 Black models and two Asian models) down the runway in his show of 47 looks, meaning his show was 89% non-white—an important statement and much-needed inclusivity from a mainstream fashion designer.
According to Fashionista, Posen's Fall 2016 NYFW show was inspired by Princess Elizabeth of Toro:
…A Ugandan lawyer who became the first East African woman to be admitted to the English bar. She was also a successful model and covered American Vogue in 1968, and was briefly the foreign minister of Uganda in the 1970s. Black or white, she was an accomplished and beautiful woman — a perfect point of inspiration for a fashion designer.
Zac Posen has actually been hip to diversity—and fully aware of fashion's problem with it—for a while. In 2014, fashion activist and former model Bethann Hardison told Vogue that she saw Posen as the Yves Saint Laurent of his time, for being devoted to "promoting a wide range of beauty." In October 2015, Posen was honored at the Blacks In Retail Action Group gala. In Posen's acceptance speech, he said:
“Its crucial that the new generations see diversity not as an issue, but as an asset,” Posen said. “I will continue to battle this on the runway and the red carpet, and for the rest of my life.”
It's clear that Posen is keeping his word. Now, other designers just need to follow suit.
Tahirah Hairston is a style writer from Detroit who likes Susan Miller, Rihanna's friend's Instagram accounts, ramen and ugly-but cute shoes.