Updated: (Feb. 24, 2020)
Well, that was fast…or not fast enough depending on you ask. But the officials responsible for the Fashion Institute of Technology’s racist fashion show have been placed on leave.
According to the New York Post, FIT President Dr. Joyce F. Brown that she not only did she suspend Mary Davis, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, and Jonathan Kyle Farmer, Chair of the MFA Fashion Design Department but that the school has also hired a law firm to investigate the Feb. 7 Junkai Huang fashion show that pressured models to wear “monkey ears” and “oversized” Sambo-looking lips on the catwalk.
Apparently, Davis and Farmer’s return “to the school is dependent on the outcome of that investigation,” the Post noted.
“We cannot expect our community to trust us without a full examination of how this came about,” Brown wrote in the email obtained by the Post. “Those in charge of and responsible for overseeing the show failed to recognize or anticipate the racist references and cultural insensitivities that were obvious to almost everybody else.”
This decision came days after Brown issued a statement apologizing for the incident.
Now, this appalling show made national waves when model Amy Lefevre spoke out against the show, telling the Post that she refused to wear these accessories, despite being pressured to do so.
“I was literally shaking. I could not control my emotions,” explained Lefevre. “My whole body was shaking. I have never felt like that in my life. People of color are struggling too much in 2020 for the promoters not to have vetted and cleared accessories for the shows.”
After coming forward, Lefevre expressed on Instagram her gratitude for all the support she received for her act of courage.
“I cannot express how grateful and humbled I am by the support, near and far, that you have all provided to me. You guys give me the confidence to keep moving forward with integrity and pride in who I am. Love to you all,” she wrote.
Without her, this story may have gone under the radar and these officials would still be working at the college.
Previously: (Feb. 19, 2020): Black Model Refused To Wear Racist Monkey Ears And Sambo Lips In FIT Fashion Show
NYFW is over and we can officially say we’ve survived fashion’s biggest season and all its offerings. However, it isn’t over for one Black model, who refused to walk in a show hosted by the Fashion Institute of Technology because of its racist accessories. Amy Lefevre said “no” when she was being pressured to wear “monkey ears” and “oversized lips” in Junkai Huang designs at a runway show at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“I stood there almost ready to break down telling the staff that I felt incredibly uncomfortable with having to wear these pieces and that they were clearly racist,” Lefevre told the New York Post.
“I was told that it was fine to feel uncomfortable for only 45 seconds.” Though she opted to still walk in the show, Amy left the event “immediately afterward,” claims a source to The Post.
F.I.T. graduate and lead designer of the line Junkai Huang claims he did not understand the “racial overtones of his work,” and Amy’s modeling agency later received calls conflicting and discrediting her accounts of the events that occurred that night. The original concept of Huang’s show called for highlighting “ugly features of the body,” but what does that mean for Black people who are naturally born with larger lips and other paralleled facial features?
“I was literally shaking. I could not control my emotions,” explained Amy Lefevre. “My whole body was shaking. I have never felt like that in my life. People of color are struggling too much in 2020 for the promoters not to have vetted and cleared accessories for the shows.”
F.I.T. president Joyce F. Brown has released a statement and assured that there will be a further investigation into the account that occurred on February 7th.
The statement reads:
“This program protects a student’s freedom to craft their own personal and unique artistic perspectives as designers, to be even what some would consider to be provocative, so that they find that voice. However provocative design and fashion might be though, my commitment to ensure that people are not made to feel uncomfortable, offended, or intimidated is also of the utmost importance not only to me personally but to the college community as well. We take this obligation very, very seriously and will investigate and take appropriate action regarding any complaint or concern that is made in this situation.”
Sadly, when it comes to the fashion industry, this type of nonsense isn’t new or rare. With the backlash from those tired cornrow wigs at the Commes des Garçons show during Paris Fashion Week earlier this year, that travesty called Gucci’s infamous blackface sweater last year and Burberry’s noose hoodie, it’s clear that the fashion world has a lot to learn when it comes to racism, colorism and cultural appropriation.
But why haven’t they learned it already?
How many times are designers going to make the same mistake and simply apologize after? This tireless circle of racist offenses then weak after-the-fact apologies only to offend again, is exhausting. This was a blatant attack on Black features disguised as a misunderstanding. You all should have known better. Period.