In the wake of another impressive New York Fashion Week, it’s no surprise that the fashion industry is finally coming to terms with what it means to reach the expectations set by inclusive runway shows. While there is always room for more diversity, NYFW2018 certainly wasn’t the worst of its kind when it comes to adding more color into the showcases and proving that high fashion doesn’t only look good on white people.
This step in the right direction is a nod toward people of color, especially those in the fashion industry, where they are constantly misrepresented or simply excluded the runway at altogether. This year’s fashion week arguably set the stage for a new age in model representation, particularly within the high-fashion magazines we love to indulge in, even though we know their spreads tend to lean toward one side of the color spectrum - and we’re not talking the shade of the designer’s clothes.
The progressive tone set by inclusive showcases in the past months was carried and perfectly executed by the woman, the myth, the legend Naomi Campbell in all her melanin-popping glory. In the gorgeous April 2018 British GQ magazine cover, Campbell is pictured intertwined with grime artist Skepta in a passionate array of beauty, brown skin and black excellence.
On the surface, the cover is an intimate portrayal of black love, with the two stars just happening to be celebrities in designer clothes, but it’s almost too easy to comment on the obvious masterpiece of the cover.
The delicate grace of Campbell expertly juxtapositioned against the calloused nature of Skepta. Her flawless skin complementing his tattoos as if they are pieces of the same painting. The way in which each picture of the spread contains a million words and emotions within the models’ eyes. How they manage to make the basic items of clothing effortlessly stand out. It’s no surprise that the cover is stunning-- the only expected outcome when you fit two undeniable forces into one cover page.
In all honesty, the world was not worthy of the poignant imagery that the remarkable duo offered. The cover was executed to be flawless and it accomplished just that-- hands down. But there’s so so much more behind this cover shoot than pretty faces.
Naomi Campbell has always been at the top of anyone and everyone’s list of iconic models. There’s no denying her talent and the footprint that she has left in the fashion industry, especially by paving the way for other black models to foster a career in her image. However, now that she is at the same status of the greats, it’s incredibly easy for her to abandon this campaign of diversifying the industry she holds so dear to her heart.
The fact is, Campbell doesn’t need the exposure, the fame or the fortune of bookings anymore, including gigs like magazine covers. After all, she already has it in the palm of her hand. If not for the paycheck or the claim to fame, then why does Campbell continue to bless us with projects like the striking GQ campaign?
The answer lies in Campbell’s unwavering allegiance to her people. Instead of concentrating on what a project will do for her, instead, the supermodel said she turns to what the effect will have on the black community. In a world overflowing with magazine covers containing the same pale skin, blonde hair and blue eyes, any diversity on a front cover is worthy of recognition. This impressive feat is doubled when there are not one, but two black faces staring back at you from the same issue in your supermarket’s magazine aisle.
The impact on the young black children desperately searching for representation and confirmation that they too can be beautiful, reaches monumental heights when the front-page star is someone with as much of an influence as Campbell and Skepta. By being unapologetically black (and in love) in a predominant magazine, Campbell is daring to tell the public that fashion diversity is here and not going away any time soon. Fortunately, we are more than ready for what Campbell and other people of color in the fashion industry have in store for us.