5 Recent Runway Moments Championing Diversity

AUG 15, 2019

From Western brands taking Eastern influence for Resort 2020 to transgenerational models at Couture AW19

Fashion is a large proponent of diversity and recent runway shows have been a testament to that. Through the collections, the model castings and the show locations, luxury fashion brands are working hard to promote inclusivity, whether that’s towards age, gender, size, sexual orientation, or race. Here, we round up five recent fashion shows that have supported diversity to spectacular effect.

French fashion house Chloé was influenced by the East for its Resort 2020 show that took place on the rooftop of the Long Museum in Shanghai. As well as being drawn by Asia’s booming luxury market, Chloé Creative Director Natacha Ramsay-Levi was inspired for the collection by a love for Chinese cinema - particularly films by Jia Zhangke, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Zhang Yimou, Bi Gan, and Lou Yi. This was reflected in design details such as side buttons on a floral dress that evoked a qipao, and jackets featuring tiny embroideries, worn by a majority Chinese cast of local models.

Inclusivity was at the heart of Louis Vuitton’s AW19 menswear collection, shown in Paris, from gender-neutral pleated skirts to international flag prints. Men’s Artistic Director Virgil Abloh remarked that he “spun the globe” for the collection which includes a houndstooth suit patterned with miniature maps of Africa, and flag print sweaters inspired by the nationalities of the people in his studio, from Germany to Kazakhstan.

“The only way to make couture alive today is to embrace different women’s identities and cultures,” said Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli in a studio preview of the brand’s Couture AW19 collection. To this end, the Paris show presented a diverse casting, including models Lauren Hutton, Cecilia Chancellor, Georgina Grenville, and Hannelore Knuts, who range in age from mid-70s to early-40s.

Creative Director of Dior Maria Grazia Chiuri returned to the brand’s roots in Marrakech for its Resort 2020 collection, making reference to the 1960 coat designed by Yves Saint Laurent, then head of Christian Dior, that was named after the North African city. Embracing the culture, Dior collaborated with a number of African artisans for the collection, including Uniwax to create authentic African wax prints on cotton, and Sumano to create the tapestry-like woven pieces.

Following its AW19 shows in Milan, Fendi presented its men’s and women’s collections together for the first time when showing them (plus 15 new looks) in Shanghai. As both men and women took to a runway that spiralled the Powerlong Museum of modern art, the show celebrated both inclusivity and the late Karl Lagerfeld, for whom the womenswear collection was his last, and the menswear he acted as a guest artist. A number of notable figures from Asia served as models for the show, including Chinese actors Gong Li and Timmy Xu, and Thai actress Davika Hoorne.