The Fashion Week in Rio de Janeiro was marked by the controversy of racism. During the opening of the 22nd edition of Fashion Rio for winter 2013, a group of demonstrators protested the weak presence of blacks on Brazilian catwalks in the country with the world’s largest black population after Nigeria. Shouting “Somos um país de negros (We are a country of blacks)!”, activists from the NGO Educafro requested more space in the labor market in this country of 194 million people where about 52% of the population is black or mulatto, but is still disadvantaged in comparison to whites.
Models and event organizers tried to explain to low presence of black models.
“We have done a series of actions and works promoting inclusive diversity because of the culture in a broad sense not only because of fashion. But the choice always lies on the creator, on who is about creating that collection, what he is doing. So we certainly see it. There are stylists who use many black models, there are stylists who use less, so it will balance itself out.”
“Blacks when they come in, it marks a difference. So, I think there are few because whites generally have more equal profiles and blacks don’t. Each black person has a different beauty, some are more exotic, others are not.”
Many complain that black models are only called when the theme of the parade is “ethnic.” Mara, 21, a little over 6 feet tall and 121 pounds, tried to justify the weak presence of blacks on the catwalks: “Does the black Brazilian have too many curves?” she asks, noting that she wants to try her luck abroad, “where there are more black models, it’s less closed than here.”
The runway presence of the OEstudio brand was one of the few with a strong presence of blacks. Models paraded outfits in dark colors to the beat of drums by percussionist Jam da Silva.
Anne Gaul, Stylist of O Estudio (at 1:16 mark of video, Portuguese):
“We are in Brazilian territory. We need to show all this mixing and who we are. We are not 100% black or 100% white, we are this mixture like this. And how to represent this mixture is the motive for which we always bring a casting very well balanced.”
Rocking an afro hairstyle or what they call “cabelo black power” in Brazil, , Rafaella Lemes, 20, made her debut on the runways. “I think we’ll end up having quotas in the fashion world. I’m happy for those who have already entered, but it would be great to have a parade only with blacks, it would have a lot of impact,” she said.
In June of 2009 and under pressure from black movements, the São Paulo Fashion Week for the first time imposed a quota of at least 10% for models of black or indigenous origin. But in 2010 “fiscal conservatives didn’t keep the quotas,” said Friar David Santos, a Franciscan priest who runs NGO Educafro. Since then, Educafro “discusses with the federal public defender for a way to guarantee these quotas in fashion throughout Brazil,” he added.
Bare-breasted black models protest to publicize the lack of black models in Fashion Rio event
Black models stage a runway protest in Brasília
Blacks stage protest on the first day of Fashion Rio
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