10% of models in Brazilian fashion week 'must be black'
June 8, 2010 3:25 PM Subscribe
São Paulo Fashion Week, the nation’s most important fashion event, has been forced by local prosecutors to ensure that at least 10 percent of its models are of African or indigenous descent.
The model scouts see it differently - it's all about what sells. "The goal" Brazilian model scouts say, "is to find the right genetic cocktail of German and Italian ancestry, perhaps with some Russian or other Slavic blood thrown in. Such a mix, they say, helps produce the tall, thin girls with straight hair, fair skin and light eyes that Brazil exports to the runways of New York, Milan and Paris with stunning success." Yet, "on the pages of its magazines, Brazil’s beauty spectrum is clearer. Nonwhite women, including celebrities of varying body types, are interspersed with white models. But on the runways, the proving ground for models hoping to go abroad, the diversity drops off precipitously."
"Prosecutors investigating discrimination
complaints against São Paulo Fashion Week found that only 28 of the event’s 1,128 models were black in early 2008." "The Sao Paulo state prosecutor's office had threatened legal action against the organisers unless they increased the number of black models. Companies which fail to meet the new target could face fines of up to $120,000 (£76,000), prosecutors said. The agreement is also largely seen as a response to threats from a black rights group which planned to disrupt the fashion week."
"Clóvis Pessoa studies facial traits that are successful on international runways and looks for towns in the south that mirror those genes." "Yet Brazil is not the same country it was in 1994, when Gisele Bündchen
, the world’s top earning model, was discovered in a tiny town not far from here."