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The New Runway: Diversity in Paris Haute Couture Week

By Chelsea Moore


Many of us know that a typical fashion show consists of the "3 G's": glitter, glamour, and grandeur. But the Paris Haute Couture spring/summer 2019 (SS19) shows of January 2019 displayed more than typical fashion. They defined the future of the runway.

Over the few days of couture it wasn’t the new and exquisite spring collections that stole the stage, it was the incredibly diverse and inclusive range of models and shows. It was a celebration of style, diversity, self acceptance, and the future of an inclusive society.

The diversity of the models themselves reflected the diversity within the styles and ideas shown throughout the show.

The Paris Haute Couture SS19 collections highlighted 30 different designers, all taking a different approach to their collections. The shows provided fashion connoisseurs with everything from the thrill of the Christian Dior circus orchestrated by Maria Grazia Chiuri to the clean and crisp Givenchy performance created by Clare Waight Keller. Chanel's dazzling diamond bride and Viktor & Rolf’s newest collection literally made statements of their own. This high sewn fashion created by some of the greatest designers of our generation illuminated the artistry of style, the intricacy of design, and true excellence in fashion.

To focus in on the shows' diversity and progressiveness, we must note the women featured in the all female circus performance for the Christian Dior show and the pro feminist dresses in the Viktor & Rolf show. In addition, a celebration of sexuality was put in contrast with a clean, crisp runway in Givenchy's "blank slate" show. These capture some of the steps SS19 is taking in favour of women in the ideal of a more inclusive fashion community.

Over the 4 days in Paris, according to The Fashion Spot, “models of colour made 32.4% of runway castings”, which is an all time high for a Paris Haute Couture week. Erin O’Connor, the supermodel who closed the Schiaparelli show sporting a layered pink gown, executed her walk with excellence all the while in the last stages of her pregnancy. Louis Vuitton’s transgender models, such as Jessica Espinosa, were breaking the boundaries of stereotypical womenswear and menswear on the runway. SS19 was pivotal for the future of the runway in Paris.

Valentino's lineup of models - via Prestige

It seems that, even with all the grandeur surrounding SS19, the spotlight still manages to shine on the diverse range of models and the celebration of diversity displayed by the shows. We still have a long way to go in terms of including models of all races and sizes, but we can say with confidence that the future of the fashion industry looks promising.

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