Here’s a look at the SS21 collection full of diversity optics and performativity.
(From left to right: An image of the Jacquemus team and an image of three of Jacquemus's models / @DECOUTURIZE via Twitter)
The Spring/Summer 2021 fashion week season has been a challenging season for designers. From COVID-19 restrictions to possibly the largest human rights movement in America’s history, the fashion industry had a lot to be aware of.
The new Jacquemus collection is easily recognizable by its models walking in flowy, neutral-colored garments in a serene Parisian wheat field. (It was also one of the few runway shows to happen in person.)
On the surface, the collection seemed to showcase a diverse image of different skin tones, hair textures, and body types. But the pictures of the team behind the scenes tell a different story — A much whiter story, that is.
There’s a major difference between using diversity to create real social change and using diversity simply to put on a show for the media. And when Jacquemus's team does not reflect the same diverse image as its models, of course, its intentions are going to seem suspicious.
The original account behind this viral tweet later followed up by stating her intention wasn’t “‘canceling’ Jacquemus,” but rather to bring light to “a deep-rooted industry issue” that’s “beyond any one brand.”
Some argue that since France, where Jacquemus is based, has a primarily white population, this provides a rationale for virtually the entire crew to be white. However, the situation is more complex than individuals’ population estimates.
The Black Lives Matter movement has swept people to action on a global scale, and France is no exception to these protests and demands for systemic change.
Assa Traoré, whose brother died in French police custody, has been considered the key leader in France’s BLM movement. In an interview for The Washington Post, Traoré described France’s denial of racism by stating “France doesn’t even accept the word [racism]... in France, it’s all the ‘social cause.’”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the French government takes a “colorblind” approach to addressing race, and even “forbids the official collection of statistics on race and religion.”
By sweeping discrimination under the rug, and pretending that race is simply a social construct, the French government is invalidating the brutality and mistreatment Black people face in France, just like in the U.S.
So, when Jacquemus uses Black models to put on a performance of diversity for the sake of not being cancelled by the rest of the world, that isn’t amplifying Black voices. Empowering Black people is providing them opportunities for leadership and input behind the scenes, instead of only having white voices making the decisions.
Society, not just in France, can only become more diverse when the power isn’t being held by only white people. The leaders of the fashion industry as a whole have been far too white for far too long, and we need change now.
The lack of internal diversity in Jacquemus, and the fashion industry in general, may not be visible to the naked eye, but that doesn’t mean it’s not just as harmful as having only white models on the runway.
So, Jacquemus, please get your shit together. Sincerely, literally everyone.
Maya Lang is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She enjoys playing guitar, staying up far too late, and daydreaming about living in the '80s. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info and movie recommendations.