Fashion Advertisers Rediscover Black Models

Nearly a decade ago, when Precious Lee arrived for a modeling go-see, she was grilled about her ethnic background. The clients, who were representing a deep-pocketed luxury brand, were looking for a mixed-race model, Ms. Lee recalled. When she told them that she was Black, their faces fell. “Oh, you’re just so pretty,” they raced to reassure her. She was as quick with a comeback. “I didn’t know being Black didn’t come in pretty,” she said. Fast-forward a few years to find Black models making token appearances in fashion campaigns as part of a multicultural mix. “The typical casting was one Black model and one Asian,” said Alton Mason, a Black model who has been prominently featured in campaigns for Etro, Missoni, and Tommy Hilfiger. “The rest of the models were white.” Times change. A health crisis combined with a summer of civil unrest and protests against racism has forced a shift in mindset. Magazine editors reacted, enlisting high-profile Black personalities — among them, Rihanna for Harper’s Bazaar, Cardi B for Elle and Kerry Washington for Town & Country — to front their September issues. Read more at The New York Times.