We all know that cultural appropriation of black hair on the catwalk is the norm *cough* Valentino, Caitlin Price *cough*. Last season, however, we saw a new look on the catwalk: black women rocking their natural tresses. Spearheading this look was Lineisy Montero, who caused a social media meltdown when she walked for Prada with her mini ‘fro.
Image: Lineisy Montero walking in the Prada SS16 show, courtesy of Monica Feudi/Indigital
It is so often the case that the one or two black models cast for shows (around 70% of white models make up the catwalk quota) have weave or hair that is blow-dried straight within an inch of its life. We forget just how powerfully the Afro stands out in the fashion environment.
One of the reasons for the lack of natural hair on the catwalk is simply the fact that hairdressers aren’t equipped with the knowledge of how to treat Afro hair. Lineisy’s Prada moment was a sigh of relief for black women, because it seemed that the fashion world is finally accepting natural hair.
The natural hair movement itself has become such a big thing in the past year, so really it was only a matter of time for fashion to embrace it. Even Victoria Secret had the beautiful Maria Borges grace their catwalk with her natural hair. Borges herself requested that she wear her close cut ‘fro: “I told my agent I wanted to walk in the Victoria’s Secret show with my natural hair”, she said. Adorned with feathers and fringing, and with no hair extensions, Borges stood out from the pack of models that included Kendell Jenner and Gigi Hadid. This was in contrast to when she walked the VS catwalks in 2013 and 2014, with long hair matching her peers.
Image: Maria Borges in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2015, courtesy of Michael Stewart/Getty Images
It’s time that we change the beauty standards within fashion, especially when it comes to black hair. Whether kinky, coily or curly, if a model wants to have her natural hair then why can’t she?
Long gone are the days where hairlines are disappearing due to over-weaving (see Naomi Campbell). In 2016, it’s time to embrace a new idea of what is ‘beautiful’, and give young black girls the chance to see people that reflect them on these platforms. So we urge you designers and casting directors, as fashion week approaches, we want to see more Karly Loyce’s, Poppy Okotcha’s, and Imaan Hammam’s on the catwalks.
And for the love of God, no more overtly gelled down baby hairs, please!