Just like Spring 2021, Fashion Month Fall 2021 was deeply impacted by the pandemic. Obviously safety measures were in place with designers favoring everything from audience-free runway shows to lookbooks and videos. As with the previous season, the pandemic had an impact on diversity — not that it should be used as an excuse for letting representation slide. Despite the challenges, Fall 2021 still managed to make history.
We’ve tallied the totals across New York, London, Milan and Paris so keep reading to see how Fashion Month Fall 2021 stacked up.
Fall 2021 is officially the most racially diverse season on record. Fashion Month Fall 2021 had 1,641 model castings across 168 shows. Which resulted in a little over 43 percent of castings going to models of color. That’s almost a 2 percent increase from last season. Spring 2021 already had a slight increase compared to Fall 2020 with the former delivering 41.3 percent nonwhite models across 2,293 total model castings at 180 presentations.
Spring 2020 was previously the most diverse season ever with 41.5 percent models of color out of 7,390 model castings at 215 major shows. Considering Fall 2021 included fewer shows and castings, it is all the more heartening to see racial diversity reach a new milestone.
Going by city, London had the highest diversity percentage with 53.3 percent nonwhite models cast. An interesting development since New York is almost always the most diverse city. London’s number actually went up from Spring 2021’s 52 percent models of color. New York ranks second with 50.7 percent models of color, which is a staggering drop from its 57.1 percent total last season. Paris cast 43.8 percent models of color (a sizable jump compared to last season’s 38.9 percent) and Milan had only 37.6 percent. Milan was slightly up from 35.6 percent in Spring 2021.
Seven of the top 11 models were women of color. The most-booked model was France’s own Loli Bahia with 14 castings walking for many big names, including Chanel, Givenchy and Valentino. She even opened Ports 1961 and closed Fendi.
Close behind was Mika Schneider with 13. The French-Japanese model was selected by Louis Vuitton, Alberta Ferretti and Etro, to name just a few.
Androgynous model Miriam Sanchez appeared in 12 shows, opening both Etro and Sportmax and closing Alberta Ferretti. Barbara Valente, Yilan Hua and Awar Odhiang also had 12 castings each. While Sora Choi, Cyrielle Lalande and Kayako Higuchi walked away with 11 apiece. Akon Changkou and Steinberg round out the list with 10 appearances each.
Like last season, most of the top models earned most of their runway miles in Milan and Paris.
While racial diversity increased, size diversity was hit hard. For Fall 2021, there were only 19 plus-size model castings, making up a paltry 1.16 percent of castings. All the more jarring since last season saw 34 appearances. Not to mention Fall 2020’s 46 and Spring 2020’s 86, the highest on record.
New York booked the most with six, followed by Milan and Paris with five apiece. London came in last with just three.
New York’s six appearances were across five shows: Jason Wu, Gabriela Hearst, Collina Strada, Christian Cowan and Tanya Taylor. In Paris, we were treated to Jill Kortleve (Coperni and Chanel) and Paloma Elsesser (Chloe and Lanvin). Milan saw Precious Lee representing Versace and Moschino, Elsesser at Marni, Alva Claire at GCDS and Kortleve at Salvatore Ferragamo. Mark Fast booked two plus-size models (Ariish Wol and Taylah Kereama) over in London while Shawanda Corbett, who is disabled, appeared for JW Anderson.
On the positive side, all but one of the castings went to models of color.
Fall 2021 showed a significant drop in gender diversity. There were 12 castings or just 0.73 percent of total castings. That figure is way down compared to Spring 2021’s 20. Fall 2020 saw 21, but previous seasons had well over twice that amount. For example, Spring 2020 had 46 and the highest ever was Spring 2019 with 91.
New York was the most gender-inclusive city with half of the castings. Christian Cowan hired non-binary models Parker Kit Hill and Richie Shazam. Transgender model Dara Allen appeared at Jason Wu and Prabal Gurung. Transgender model Ariel Nicholson walked for Gabriela Hearst. And Aaron Philip, who is transgender and disabled, was booked by Collina Strada.
Chloe selected Nicholson and non-binary model Kilian Smits. While transgender model Venus Liuzzo appeared for Koché. When it came to Milan, Nicholson was booked for Moschino and transgender model Daniela Santiago was picked by Roberto Cavalli. London only had a single booking courtesy of Osman selecting transgender model Sakeema Crook.
A little over half of the appearances went to models of color.
Age diversity also plummeted. Fall 2021 boasted 16 over-50 model appearances or 0.98 percent. That’s a 50 percent drop from Spring 2021’s 32 castings. Paris had the most with six, followed by Milan with four and New York and London had three each.
Marine Serre cast Amalia Vairelli and Kristina de Coninck. Dries Van Noten went with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Suzi de Givenchy. Marie Beltrami was featured by Alexis Mabille and Vivienne Westwood took part in her namesake collection’s presentation.
Milan brought Maye Musk for Moschino, Elisabetta Dessy for Roberto Cavalli, Benedetta Barzini for Daniela Gregis and Julia Villahermosa for Antonio Marras. In New York, Amy Fine Collins modeled for Batsheva, Dorinda Medley for Christian Cowan and Kathleen Engman for Collina Strada. Erdem had two of London’s aged model castings (Elizabeth McGorian and Marguerite Porter). JW Anderson had the other with Magdalene Odundo.
Just three castings went to models of color: Vairelli, de Givenchy and Odundo.
MOST AND LEAST DIVERSE SHOWS
With different showcase formats, it’s not as easy to get a true sense of the most and least diverse shows. Many presentations reached the 100 percent mark or the 0 percent mark because designers hired only one or two models. So we have taken that into consideration.
The brands that achieved 100 percent include Kim Shui in New York (four out of four models of color), JW Anderson in London (three out of three) and Alaïa in Paris (three out of three). New York’s Elizabeth Kennedy also had 100 percent diversity with two out of two nonwhite models. So did 3.1 Phillip Lim and Adam Lippes, each hiring one nonwhite model.
London’s Preen by Thornton Bregazzi (two of two), Roksanda (one of one) and Halpern (one of one) had 100 percent diversity. As did Bally (one of one), Dundas (one of one) along with Stella Jean (two of two) in Milan. Paris saw A.P.C. (one of one), Barbara Bui (one of one) and Maison Rabih Kayrouz (one of one) reach 100 percent diversity.
When it came to more traditional runway shows, there was decent diversity. Chloe ended up with 63 percent models of color (17 out of 27). Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini had 61 percent nonwhite models (11 out of 18), while Mark Fast had 56 percent nonwhite models (9 out of 16). Ulla Johnson and Gabriela Hearst both rang in at 50 percent with shows featuring 22 and 20 total models, respectively.
In terms of least diverse shows, Valentin Yudashkin had 0 percent diversity with zero out of five. Elisabetta Franchi had just 16 percent models of color with only 5 out of 31. Antonio Marras had the same percentage with just 4 out of 25. Emporio Armani ranked toward the bottom with 20 percent having only 5 out of 25 models of color.
Dolce & Gabbana was one of the biggest shows with 59 model castings, but only 20 were models of color or 34 percent. Hermes only had 14 out of 46 models of color totaling 30 percent. Chanel booked 7 out of 21 models of color for 33 percent. Both Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana fared much better compared to Spring 2021, where they both had 19 percent with considerably larger casts. The Italian brand cast 98 total models with only 19 being nonwhite, while Chanel had 13 out of 70.
In closing, the pandemic definitely continues to impact the industry. But it shouldn’t be seen as a justification for brands to hire less diverse casts. While it’s incredible that Fall 2021 is now the most racially diverse on record, we can’t ignore the losses felt across the size, age and gender categories. Moving forward, we hope to see substantial upticks across all fields.
Additional reporting by Mark E.
Only women and non-binary models are included in this data. Models of color are categorized as those who are nonwhite or of mixed backgrounds.