Bethann Hardison with Liya Kebede, Iman, and Naomi Campbell in 2007 at the “Blacks in Fashion” panel discussion
Naomi Campbell has sounded off on her feelings on the issue, and currently i-D is being heralded for their statement in choosing four models of color for the cover.
But Bethann Hardison is continuing her crusade to expand the prevalence of models of color on the runway. Last night, she brought together models and casting directors for an informal meet and greet, called the Paradigm Shift before Fashion Week at Deitch Projects. “It was important that we set the wheels in motion in the spirit of things,” said Bethann. “Paradigm shifts are about taking a leap and making change. And making permanent change, but you have to work at it.”
Along with Tyson Beckford, models including Damaris Lewis and casting directors like Anita Bitton and James Scully chatted surrounded by pieces of art by Kehinde Wiley. “I’m very excited about it because it’s the first time I’ve seen so many people of ethnicity in one room together,” said Damaris.
“The i-D cover is great,” she continued, talking about the issue featuring Chanel Iman, Arlenis Sosa, Jourdan Dunn, and Sessilee Lopez. And Bethann had to agree, not because of the use of models of color, but “the fact that they can find four girls is genius. That means something. It’s much improved from 2007. Now they can find four girls they can stand behind. i-D’s always been cutting-edge. But the fact that you can find four girls? That’s a tribute to the work we do.”
While each and every model personally walked up to Bethann to thank her, she broke her fast for Ramadan with one model in particular, outside the venue on a stoop. “It was so out of New York,” she said. “It was like being in Africa in a concrete jungle. It felt so happy.” As casting directors expressed her brilliance at the idea, the event was full of beaming smiles. Everyone’s looking forward to Fashion Week this year.