Fashion Institute of Technology in the United States received backlash for using 'racist' accessories with additional lips and ear for models at fashion show earlier this month, However, one of the models of colour, Amy LeFevre who walked out of the event recently revealed in an interview with an international media outlet that she was told by the organisers that “it was fine to feel uncomfortable for only 45 seconds”. The show was not only widely criticised but the authorities also faced harsh criticism for allowing 'questionable' accessories.
The event was organised on February 7 to mark the present Masters of Fine Arts degrees in fashion designing to the ten alumni and to mark 75 years of the institute. The models were dressed in bright, flowy outfits which were designed by Junkai. The accessories included a mast with protruding red mouth and big round ears. Moreover, the models were also given fake bushy eyebrows to complete the look. What gave the models at the fashion show 'apish look' has been called out by critics as being similar to blackface masks. Certain masks and makeup were applied to the white actors in the earlier days in the US to mock the people of colour.
Soon after the event, the images from the same were shared across various social media platforms and was widely criticised. The FIT, in New York, released an official statement on February 22 quoting President Joyce F Brown as “beginning of accountability”. FIT's President declared that independent investigation has been commissioned of the authorities. The inquiry will conduct a thorough probe into the entire incident including the events before and after it.
According to the official statement, the designer, Junkai who has also been the centre of the controversy has said that “his thesis notes and sketches support, that the collection he designed and produced was not aimed at invoking or provoking racial implications. However, the institute also claimed that the accessorizing of the models for the show was not directed by Junkai. Therefore, the authorities will hold those in charge of and responsible for overseeing “racist references”.
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