An black runway model vehemently refused to wear a costume which depicted her as a monkey with oversized ears and overgrown red lips during a show two weeks ago at a Fashion Institute of Technology runway show during New York Fashion Week, according to the New York Post.
What We Know:
- Amy Lefevre, who has been a model for four years, said she is no stranger to the racism and bigotry in the fashion industry but had never experienced anything like what she witnessed at the FIT fashion event on Feb 7 at Manhattan’s Pier59 Studios.
- The production was directed by Johnathan Kyle Farmer, a FIT professor and chair of the new MFA Fashion Designer program, and produced by Richard Thornn, creative director of British fashion production company NAMES LDN.
- Lefevre told Thornn of her objection, as did other models, according to an unnamed witness. “He screamed in my face, ‘You need to back down and get away,’” the witness told the paper. “It was such a grave lack of judgment.”
- Lefevre, 25, told the post, “I was literally shaking. I could not control my emotions. My whole body was shaking. I have never felt like that in my life. People of color are struggling too much in 2020 for the promoters not to have vetted and cleared accessories for the show”. She added, “I was told that it was fine to feel uncomfortable for only 45 seconds.”
- After refusing to wear the costume, Lefevre walked the runway without the ears or the bright-red synthetic lips, which came from a sex toy. Immediately after the event was over, she stormed out of the venue.
- The oversized lips and ears were designed by Junkai Huang, who recently graduated from FIT after arriving from his native China to study here. It is likely that Huang was unaware of the racial connotations that his work might provoke in some observers.
- The show was part of FIT’s 75th anniversary celebration series. Founded in 1944, the 7,406-student Chelsea school is part of the taxpayer-funded State University of New York System.
- Sam Reiss, a New York based fashion photographer, told the post, “You want to push people’s boundaries of what people think is beautiful or cool, but you don’t just want to be trying to get a reaction. You don’t push the envelope by baiting race issues. That’s not being edgy.”
Other models in the show, who were not African American, wore the accessories on the runway.