Following the end of Autumn/Winter’15 Fashion Weeks, we’re left with a few new breakout stars, including Prada’s Lineisy Montero, who had members of the Natural Movement excited on sight of her cropped ‘fro ‘do – but, representing a small number of natural-haired models in the industry, it seems there’s still a long way to go in terms of true acceptance of black hair in fashion, with top models Brandee Brown and Adesuwa Pariyapasat recently revealing how their own locks have been mistreated.
In a piece penned by i.D Magazine, model Adesuwa Pariyapasat – who has worked with top names like Kenzo and Vivienne Westwood – shares some insight into what it’s like working as a model with natural black hair, saying;
“…by the end of Fashion Week, you’re bald, you’re missing hair. You want to tell them what you do to your hair normally, but a lot of the time if you say, don’t put this or that in it – they will react badly, you come off as rude or sassy.”
“You want to be a good model but don’t want things that won’t work on your hair so it’s a fine line, a Catch 22.”
Echoing similar experiences, another of fashion’s flames, model Brandee Brown shared some of the horror stories that have unfolded for her backstage, telling Refinery29 that at one show;
“[Hairstylists] started picking at my hair like little monkeys, lifting it up and examining it like it was out of this world… There were 20 hands on my head at once. They were pulling my head this way and that with flat irons and blowdryers… I didn’t even know I had that much hair on my head.And, here we are, right before the show’s about to start, and all the other girls are laughing and talking to each other and taking pictures.”
While we’re strides away from the days of counting on just two top black models for representation of black women in the fashion industry (Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell), with more diversity on the runways bringing beauties like Malaika Firth, Binx Walton, Joan Smalls and Jourdan Dunn to the industry’s attention, we’re still stuck for names when it comes to talents who do their thing with natural tresses, as opposed to the aforementioned models who are often spied with ‘straightened’ or ‘caucasian-style’ hair.
But model, Ms Brown reaveals the misrepresentation in the industry could partially be down to a lack of skill and experience with natural black hair, with hairstylists reluctant to deal with the hairtype pre-shoot or pre-show, saying;
“I’ll show up on set and the stylist will get nervous and say, ‘Perfect, your curls are great. Leave them.’ Meanwhile, I had just taken my hat off and hadn’t washed my hair in days.
It’s like, they don’t even know the potential of this hair — of how it can look good and be styled.”
Perhaps this perspective is less at odds with the industry’s current love of black hairstyles like ‘baby hair’ and braids, than the long held idea that the lack of black models on the runway is the work of racism (read about Lizzie and Darlene Okpo’s encounters with racism in fashion, here) – but until we see more natural-haired stunners like new face Lineisy Montero on the runway, we at SPICE can’t help but think ignorance is just one of the hurdles left to jump.
But what do you think – do Brandee Brown and Adesuwa Pariyapasat’s natural hair horror stories show another side to the diversity debate? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box or on Twitter via @SPICETVAFRICA.
Image source: I-d.vice.com, Refinery29.com, Dazeddigital.com