rhianna met gala 2017

Comme des Garçons Hasn’t Cast A Black Runway Model in Over A Decade

After celebrating designer Rei Kawakubo at The Met Gala, why have Black runway models been left out so long?

by Teryn Payne, May 3, 2017

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rhianna met gala 2017

Comme des Garçons Rihanna Getty, Getty, Getty

Earlier this week, many celebrities and fashion mavens gathered from all over, to attend the annual Met Gala, hosted by Anna Wintour, held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Each year, the museum honors one fashion legend for their contributions to the industry. This year, the fundraising Gala was in celebration of Comme des Garçons’ Japanese designer and founder, Rei Kawakubo.

This years’ theme, “The Art of the In-Between” had all of its attendees pushing the fashion envelope. While celebrities like Rihanna, Tracee Ellis Ross and Helen Lasichanh, Pharrell Williams‘ wife also a co-host of the event, wore pieces from the brand, there became an unfortunate realization.

Comme des Garçons hasn’t cast one Black runway model in more than 10 years.

💙 @CommeDesGarcons @Farfetch #MetGala #MetKawakubo

A post shared by Tracee Ellis Ross (@traceeellisross) on

According to a report by Out.com, who used Vogue Runways’ running archive of all Comme des Garçons collections, there has been no record of one Black model cast in over 10 years and 39 total productions. Earlier last year, Refinery 29 explored this topic, but that didn’t garner a response from a Comme des Garçons representative, nor were any further reports made.

Lets take a look at Vogue Runway’s archive: 

Spring 2007 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2007: Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2007 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2007 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2008 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2008 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2008 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2008 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2009 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2009 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2009 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2010 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2010 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2010 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2010 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2011 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2011 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2011 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2011 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2012 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2012 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2012 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2013 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2013 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2013 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2013 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2014 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2014 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2014 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2014 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2015 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2015 Menswear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2015 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2016 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear: 0 Black Models

@saskiadebrauw by @erikmadiganheck for @nytmag with @juliendys

A post shared by Comme des Garcons OFFICIAL (@commedesgarcons) on

According to a report by Vogue, Veronica Webb, the first African-American model to have an exclusive major cosmetics contract , walked in the Comme des Garçons “Unfinished” show in Spring 1992.

While we are making great strides of diversity and inclusion within the fashion industry, the lack of Black runway models within Comme des Garçons presentations is not only upsetting but disappointing.

There are many prominent Black celebrities that spend their money on Comme des Garçons and promote its brand, but yet, Black models aren’t included on their runway?

Diversity within the fashion industry has been an important topic of conversation over the years and therefore should be a priority for designers. “Surely any modern designer with a worldview is attuned to the importance of diversity,” wrote Jason Campbell in a Business of Fashion op-ed about the importance of representation in fashion. “It’s a myth that uniformed skin color is the way to convey a cohesive, singular design idea and it is irresponsible and senseless businesswise to ignore this hot-button issue.”

As upsetting as this discovery is, it is the reality. The question that remains unanswered is, why in over a decade has Comme des Garçons not cast any Black runway models?


Teryn Payne is Editorial Assistant to EBONY’s Editor-in-Chief. She’s obsessed with style, nail polish and all things olive. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Teryn_Denice.

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