22 Fashion Shows from the Past That Would Be Canceled for Lack of Diversity

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The past marked toned abs and impossibly long legs as prerequisites for fashion shows. However, now the runway shatters narrow beauty standards. Previous shows were relatively homogenous. This article features 22 fashion shows from the past that would now be unappealing owing to the absence of diversity.

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1967: Courrèges’ Space Age Spring/Summer Collection

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The Spring/Summer 1967 show was based on geometric shapes and mod silhouettes. It laid a heavy emphasis on miniskirts, pants, and fashionable boots. Moreover, a youthful, gamine look was the sole preference. Its models were all identical and Twiggy-esque. It dealt with problematic fashion presentations that might not resonate with the present.

1970s: Halston’s All-American Glamor

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1970s glamor was the primary focus of Halston’s All-American Glamor show, but it lacked racial diversity. America’s multicultural reality was not depicted accurately. Thus, if this had happened at present, it would likely have been critiqued because it was centered on the “Halstonettes,” who were all white models.

1973: Battle of Versailles Fashion Show

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In today’s American climate, ethnic diversity is a must for fashion designers. The Battle of Versailles Fashion Show amassed great popularity but lacked this crucial factor. Also, all the designers were from the US and France, and white models were another issue with the show.

1975: Diana Vreeland’s Black is Beautiful Ball at the Met

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The Black is Beautiful Ball at the Met was led by Diana Vreeland. This show had an absurd theme that did not aptly represent Black designers and models. In addition, the Met, which was purely a white institution then, celebrated Black culture, which was a bit odd back then.

1980s: The Era of the Supermodel

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The era of the supermodel show, which was shown to the world in the 1980s, lacked showcasing models of different heights, ethnicities, and body types. In today’s climate, this homogeneity would face a lot of criticism. Models of color were rarely included in that century. The representation of diverse ethnicities and body types is given preference today.

1991: Gianni Versace’s Tribute to Elton John

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This was an iconic show that involved the contributions of Gianni Versace, the iconic fashion designer, and Elton John, the legendary musician. In 1991, Gianni Versace’s Tribute to Elton John featured the lack of inclusivity of LGBTQ+ representation, even though it should have been vital due to the organizer’s identity.

1992: Calvin Klein’s Obsession Campaign Featuring Kate Moss

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This eternity campaign highlighted unrealistic beauty standards. Today’s fashion shows have evolved to include topics about body positivity. Also, the sexualization of a minor was another setback. This was because Kate Moss was only 15 years old at the time of this show.

1993: Donna Karan’s “Cashmere Revolution” Collection

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Similar to the previous shows, the white models also took center stage. Even though this show featured a luxurious collection, a wider range of skin tones and ethnicities should have been included. This was a significant drawback of the Cashmere Revolution Collection Show by Donna Karan.

1997: Alexander McQueen’s “The Body” Collection

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Its title sounds a bit satirical, for it failed to depict the entire spectrum of a human owing to the inclusion of only cisgender and able-bodied models for the runway. The Body meant bodies of good-looking models, predominantly white, and who didn’t have an ounce of fat on the,=m.  

1998: Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

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Yet again, we are back in the same spot. Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was a massive success. It was trendy due to word-of-mouth publicity and its feature in fashion magazines. However, the central issue was that it lacked body diversity. It showcased tall, skinny models; thus, the audience was narrow.

2000: John Galliano’s “Shipwrecked” Dior Collection

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The  “Shipwrecked” Dior Collection was extravagant. However, John Galliano’s portrayal of stereotypical depictions of Oceanic cultures can be condemned in today’s age. What was acceptable in the 2000s may not be accepted today because fashion is ever-evolving.

2003: Marc Jacobs’ “Miss World” Collection for Louis Vuitton

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The “Miss World” Collection for Louis Vuitton, led by Marc Jacobs in 2003, comprised brightly colored geisha-inspired looks for Asian models. Fashion enthusiasts might not accept this nowadays. Marc Jacobs was appointed as the artistic director of Louis in 1997. He served for LV until 2013 and brought a playful aesthetic to the brand during his tenure.

2007: Alexander McQueen’s “Sarabande” Collection

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The theme of Alexander McQueen’s “Sarabande” Collection was sleek gray trousers and ornamented tunics. Models donned couture-worthy gowns worth looking at because of the intricate details. The ever-beautiful “Sarabande” collection did not celebrate healthy models at all. It was focused on a heroin chic aesthetic that the audience would not want to watch today.

2008: Prada’s “Blackface” Sweaters

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The “Blackface” Sweaters were worn by Prada in its 2008 fashion show. They featured large red lips designed on a brown base. The sweaters also included exaggerated stereotypical Black features that will not be tolerated today. Racial prejudice and cultural appropriation are given preference today. This may have worked in 2008, but not today.

2010: Dolce & Gabbana’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” Collection

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Dolce & Gabbana created  “The Emperor’s New Clothes” Collection for the 2010 Fall/Winter Collection. This 2010 collection was based on Chinese culture. The classic Hans Christian Andersen was the sole inspiration for this Fashion Show. It featured gold dragons and chopsticks as accessories that would disrespect the community.

2012: Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Casting Controversy

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Victoria’s Secret’s Fashion Show, which took place in 2012, excluded plus-size model Jeannie Mai, who drew criticism from the audience because the show did not include size inclusivity. Moreover, one of the models, Karlie Kloss, wore Native American attire, which insensitively depicted Native American culture.

2013: Rihanna’s Debut Collection for River Island

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British high-street retailer was the primary clothing line debut of Rihanna. London Fashion Week featured this elite collection in February. The paramount clothing pieces included maxi dresses, crop tops, hot pants, sporty jumpsuits, a Pamela Anderson-inspired red swimsuit, etc. This fashion show did not achieve racial diversity, which was supposed to be the target of Rihanna’s Debut Collection for River Island.

2017: Marc Jacobs’ Dreadlock Wigs on Models

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Marc Jacobs’s fashion show portrayed white models with dreadlocks and wigs. The Spring 2017 collection show of Marc Jacob faced criticism. This was quite offensive to black people. Dreadlocks have a deep history and shouldn’t have been used this way.

2015: Valentino’s “Africa” Collection

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Paris Fashion Week in Fall/Winter 2015 featured Valentino’s “Africa” Collection. Flowing caftans, beaded dresses, and animal prints were the highlights of this show. However, Valentino’s collection stereotypically depicted African culture, which amassed criticism from fashion enthusiasts all across the continent. It felt as if African culture was being disrespected through this. Later, the organizers issued an apology.

Christian Dior spring/summer collection show in 1947

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This early-age show of Christian Dior belonged to the spring/summer collection. It launched the “New Look” that transformed women’s fashion after World War II. It gained immense popularity but will now be criticized because of the narrow range of models that were a part of the runway walk. Young, white, and skinny models couldn’t tell much about the diversity of body types. Thus, it may face criticism owing to this primary reason.

2019: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Lack of Body Diversity

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The 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue featured only skinny models, which sparked criticism. A wider range of body types was expected to be included. Now, fashion shows demand a more realistic portrayal of women than the one we observe in movies. Including just slim and toned physiques was not expected in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

2018: Diversity and Sustainability Issues at New York Fashion Week

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The last show on this list is the esteemed New York Fashion Week. In 2018, the audience criticized New York Fashion Week’s size and racial diversity. Also, fast fashion was highly condemned once the show was completed. Shows in this era need to adopt eco-friendly practices.

Author: Ali Van Straten

Title: Journalist

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