Dior has released its Steven Klein lensed images featuring Rihanna as the face for the French label’s current “Secret Garden” print campaign plus a first look at video (below) featuring the song “If Only For A Night,” a song from upcoming album #R8. This is not a small deal for Dior because under the creative direction of Raf Simons, the label has come under fire for casting few black models on its runways (and none at all for his first six collections). Even still, there are those who believe Simons’ decision to cast black models came only because of pressure following a March 2013 Buzzfeed article, which put multiple labels on blast but Dior in particular for a lack of model diversity, with casting director James Scully commenting, “I feel the Dior cast is just so pointedly white that it feels deliberate. I watch that show and it bothers me — I almost can’t even concentrate on the clothes because of the cast. And recently they’re changing from a very diverse, world wide, multicultural cast to just a very Germanic-looking white girl.” The lack of black models at Dior was viewed as especially disappointing because the label was known for its diversity under the direction of prior designer John Galliano.
One might conclude the casting of Rihanna reflects a coming to Jesus moment for Simons, but then again maybe not. In the presentation for Resort 2016 shown yesterday, out of 50 looks, just two of the models were black. Always we have believed that the bigger issue is not so much what color models are on the runway as much as the diversity of the company’s leading decision makers. Create more diversity top to bottom and it will be reflected on the runway. In the meantime, there are a lot of folks out there hawking expensive bags so we say be discerning in your choices.