The fashion industry’s over-the-top efforts to shock the senses are well known, but an African American model is claiming she was pushed to wear a get-up that was “clearly racist.”
Amy Lefevre, 25, said she was asked to wear as accessories “monkey ears” and large, oversized lips, according to the New York Post.
Given that the fashion world is the domain of the liberal elite, the accusation may be seen as outrageous or, given one’s perspective, par for the course.
Taking part in a Fashion Institute of Technology runway show, Lefevre told the Post that she was pressured to wear the bizarre accessories that came from a sex toy, after refusing on the grounds that it made her uncomfortable.
“I stood there almost ready to break down,” she said, “telling the staff I felt incredibly uncomfortable with having to wear these pieces and that they were clearly racist.”
“I was told that it was fine to feel uncomfortable for only 45 seconds.” Lefevre added.
Having been a model for four years and appearing on more than two dozen catwalks, said told the paper she has experienced bigotry before, but nothing like what she saw at the Feb. 7 FIT fashion event.
“I was literally shaking. I could not control my emotions. My whole body was shaking. I have never felt like that in my life,” she said. “People of color are struggling too much in 2020 for the promoters not to have vetted and cleared accessories for the shows.”
Lefevre walked the runaway in other outfits that didn’t require her to wear the bright red, oversized lips and big ears, and reportedly stormed out of the event immediately afterward.
Other models in the show wore the pieces she refused to wear down the runway, and while they were not African American, there was a black model wearing just the big ears.
The show, staged at Manhattan’s Pier59 Studios, was designed to showcase the work of FIT alumni. It was directed by FIT professor Jonathan Kyle Farmer, the new MFA Fashion Design, and produced by Richard Thornn, creative director of British fashion production company NAMES LDN, the Post reported.
A source said the concept behind the accessories was to highlight “ugly features of the body.”
A student who said she was backstage backed up Lefevre’s account of events, adding that classmates expressed objections to Farmer the day before the show.
“We brought it up to [Thornn] multiple times,” the anonymous witness said. “We said she cannot wear this. This is wrong. He screamed in my face, ‘You need to back down and get away.’ It was such a grave lack of judgment.”
FIT President Dr. Joyce F. Brown told The Post the incident will be investigated and appropriate action taken.
“This program protects a student’s freedom to craft their own personal and unique artistic perspectives as designers, to be even what some would consider to be provocative, so that they find that voice,” Brown said. “However provocative design and fashion might be though, my commitment to ensuring that people are not made to feel uncomfortable, offended, or intimidated is also of the utmost importance not only to me personally but to the college community as well. We take this obligation very, very seriously and will investigate and take appropriate action regarding any complaint or concern that is made in this situation.”
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