Report: The style month of autumn 2021 is the racially most numerous season of all time, however dimension, age and gender illustration are falling

Models at Giambattista Valli Fall 2021; Image: Imaxtree

Just like spring 2021, Fashion Month Fall 2021 was also badly affected by the pandemic. Obviously there were security measures in place where designers preferred everything from public-free runway shows to lookbooks and videos. Like last season, the pandemic had an impact on diversity – not that it was used as an excuse to let representation slip. Despite the challenges, history was made in autumn 2021.

We took the totals in New York, London, Milan and Paris. So read on to see how Fashion Month Fall 2021 played out.

RUN

Fall 2021 is officially the most racially diverse season of all time. Fashion Month Fall 2021 had 1,641 model castings in 168 shows. This resulted in just over 43 percent of castings using color models. That is almost 2 percent more than last season. The spring of 2021 already recorded a slight increase compared to autumn 2020. The former delivered 41.3 percent non-white models out of a total of 2,293 model castings in 180 presentations.

Spring 2020 was previously the most varied season of all time with 41.5 percent color models from 7,390 model castings at 215 major exhibitions. Given that the fall of 2021 featured fewer shows and auditions, it is all the more encouraging to see racial diversity reach a new milestone.

% Non-white models by city

In the city, London had the highest proportion of diversity with 53.3 percent of the non-white models. An interesting development, as New York is almost always the most diverse city. The number in London actually rose from the 52 percent color models of spring 2021. New York ranks second at 50.7 percent color models, a staggering decrease from 57.1 percent last season. Paris threw 43.8 percent of color models (a sizable jump compared to 38.9 percent last season) and Milan had just 37.6 percent. Milan rose slightly from 35.6 percent in spring 2021.

TOPMODELS

Loli Bahia in Fendi fall 2021; Image: Imaxtree

Seven of the top 11 models were women of color. The most booked model was France’s own Loli Bahia with 14 castings that run for many big names such as Chanel, Givenchy and Valentino. She even opened Ports in 1961 and closed Fendi.

Just behind was Mika Schneider at 13. The Franco-Japanese model was selected by Louis Vuitton, Alberta Ferretti and Etro, to name but a few.

Androgynous model Miriam Sanchez appeared in 12 shows, opened both Etro and Sportmax, and closed Alberta Ferretti. Barbara Valente, Yilan Hua and Awar Odhiang also had 12 auditions each. While Sora Choi, Cyrielle Lalande and Kayako Higuchi left with 11 of them. Akon Changkou and Steinberg round off the list with 10 appearances each.

Like last season, most of the top models have accumulated most of their runway miles in Milan and Paris.

OVERSIZE

Precious Lee at Versace Fall 2021; Image: Imaxtree

As racial diversity increased, size diversity was hit hard. For autumn 2021 there were only 19 oversized model castings, which is only 1.16 percent of the castings. 34 appearances have been all the more exciting since last season. Not to mention the 46 in Fall 2020 and 86 in Spring 2020, the highest ever recorded.

New York booked the most with six, followed by Milan and Paris with five each. London came last with just three.

New York’s six appearances were featured in five shows: Jason Wu, Gabriela Hearst, Collina Strada, Christian Cowan and Tanya Taylor. In Paris we were treated with 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) in London while the disabled Shawanda Corbett performed for JW Anderson.

Jill Kortleve at Chanel Fall 2021; Image: Imaxtree

On a positive note, all but one of the cast parts were color models.

TRANSGENDER / NON BINARY

Ariel Nicholson at Chloe Fall 2021; Image: Imaxtree

Fall 2021 showed a significant decline in gender diversity. There were 12 castings, or only 0.73 percent of all castings. This number has decreased significantly compared to 20 in spring 2021. In the fall of 2020 it was 21, but in the past few seasons the number has been well over twice that. For example, Spring 2020 had 46 and the highest ever was Spring 2019 at 91.

New York was the most gender-specific city with half of the castings. Christian Cowan hired non-binary models like Parker Kit Hill and Richie Shazam. Transgender model Dara Allen performed with Jason Wu and Prabal Gurung. Transgender model Ariel Nicholson went for Gabriela Hearst. And Aaron Philip, who is transgender and disabled, has been booked by Collina Strada.

Dara Allen in the Prabal Gurung Fall 2021; Image: Imaxtree

Chloe chose Nicholson and the non-binary model Kilian Smits. While transgender model Venus Liuzzo performed for Koché. In Milan, Nicholson was booked for Moschino and transgender model Daniela Santiago was selected by Roberto Cavalli. London only had a single booking courtesy of Osman, who selected transgender model Sakeema Crook.

A little more than half of the appearances were made up of color models.

AGE

Elisabetta Dessy at Roberto Cavalli autumn 2021; Image: Imaxtree

Age diversity also decreased. In autumn 2021 there were 16 over 50 model appearances or 0.98 percent. That is a decrease of 50 percent compared to the 32 castings in spring 2021. Paris had the most with six, followed by Milan with four and New York and London with 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 introduced by Alexis Mabille and Vivienne Westwood attended the showcase of her namesake collection.

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 old model castings (Elizabeth McGorian and Marguerite Porter). JW Anderson had the other with Magdalene Odundo.

Elizabeth McGorian on Erdem Fall 2021; Image: Imaxtree

Only three castings went to color models: Vairelli, de Givenchy and Odundo.

MOST AND FEW DIFFERENT SHOWS

Models at Preen by Thornton Bregazzi Fall 2021; Image: Imaxtree

With different showcase formats, it’s not that easy to get an impression of the most diverse and least diverse shows. Many presentations hit the 100 percent mark or the 0 percent mark because designers only hired one or two models. So we took that into account.

Brands that hit 100 percent include Kim Shui in New York (four out of four color models), JW Anderson in London (three out of three) and Alaïa in Paris (three out of three). New Yorker Elizabeth Kennedy also had 100 percent variety with two out of two non-white models. So also 3.1 Phillip Lim and Adam Lippes, who each employed a non-white model.

London’s Preen by Thornton Bregazzi (two of two), Roksanda (one of one) and Halpern (one of one) was 100 percent diverse. Just like Bally (one of one), Dundas (one of one) and Stella Jean (two of two) in Milan. In Paris, APC (one of one), Barbara Bui (one of one) and Maison Rabih Kayrouz (one of one) achieved 100 percent diversity.

When it came to more traditional runway shows there was a decent variety. Chloe had 63 percent color models (17 out of 27). Lorenzo Serafini’s philosophy had 61 percent non-white models (11 out of 18) while Mark Fast had 56 percent non-white models (9 out of 16). Ulla Johnson and Gabriela Hearst both scored 50 percent with shows with a total of 22 and 20 models, respectively.

In terms of the least diverse shows, Valentin Yudashkin had 0 percent diversity with zero in five. Elisabetta Franchi had only 16 percent color models with only 5 out of 31. Antonio Marras had the same percentage with only 4 out of 25. Emporio Armani was at the bottom, 20 percent had only 5 out of 25 color models.

Dolce & Gabbana was one of the biggest shows with 59 model castings, but only 20 were color models, or 34 percent. Hermes only had 14 out of 46 color models for a total of 30 percent. Chanel booked 7 of 21 color models for 33 percent. Both Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana fared much better than they did in spring 2021, when both had 19 percent with significantly larger line-ups. The Italian brand occupied a total of 98 models, only 19 of which were non-white, while Chanel had 13 out of 70.

In conclusion, the pandemic definitely continues to affect the industry. However, it should not be used as a justification for brands to hire less diverse casts. While it is incredible that the fall of 2021 is now the most racially diverse, we cannot ignore the losses in the height, age, and gender categories. We hope to see significant improvements in all areas in the future.

Additional reporting from Mark E.

Only women and non-binary models are included in this data. Color models are classified as those that are not white or have a mixed background.

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