Issue 64 | Letter From The Editor: The Winners and Losers of February Fashion Month

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Issue 64: The beginning to a new era of fashion & retail.

By Demi Vitkute 

Yet another fashion month has sprung by and with one final leap taken us closer to spring. Winter was stormy in the fashion world as the most famous labels faced immense backlash against their cultural insensitivity. Around the holidays, Prada pulled its “Pradamalia” figurines from its stores. The toys that were shaped like monkeys, with black bodies and large red lips, were blamed to invoke racist blackface imagery. In February, Gucci pulled a black balaclava sweater with red lips. The brand apologized and sent its CEO Marco Bizzarri to meet with designer and Gucci collaborator Dapper Dan in Harlem. “There cannot be inclusivity without accountability. I will hold everyone accountable,” Dan wrote in his Instagram post. Burberry debuted a hoodie with cords resembling a noose around the neck during its show at London Fashion Week. It earned a flood of online backlash as critics said it was insensitive to suicide and the history of racist lynchings. “Suicide is not fashion,” wrote Liz Kennedy, one of the models featured in the Burberry show, in her Instagram post. 

Despite the epic failure of fashion's most iconic, oldest labels this season, the younger designers that presented at New York Fashion Week continued to give us hope. Prabal Gurung, a Nepalese-American fashion designer based in NYC, champions inclusivity in fashion. His fall 2019 collection celebrated the beauty of a “cultural exchange of ideas and experiences,” according to the show notes. In the show program, Prabal listed each model's ethnicity with their name: Dilone (Dominican-American), Marquita Pring (African-American), Winnie Harlow (British-Jamaican), Ashley Graham (American). Christopher John Rogers, a 24-year-old African-American designer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, presented only his second collection at NYFW, but it became the talk of the week. Rogers summed up his collection as “a debutante ball thrown at Stonehenge and illustrated by Dr. Seuss.” 

Telfar Clemens, Liberian-American designer, winner of the 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, creates fashion for everyone. His latest fall 2019 collection was less like a runway show and more like a concert. Clemens was inspired by a new play, called Slave Play, that rips apart history to shed light on race, gender and sexuality in 21st century America. Telfar collaborated with the play’s writer Jeremy O. Harris on the collection, titled Country. A stage was framed by a tattered American flag; blues, R&B and rap played, with rhymes about land, loss and fathers; diverse models trust-fell into the crowd and onto a human runway. At the end of the show, before the punk band Ho99o9 began to play the closing set, Clemens walked out on stage, wearing the brand’s new Black Lives Matter tee, for which all the proceeds will go to the nonprofit organization. He didn’t take a bow, but instead turned and fell backward into the crowd. While blackface scandals make news headlines, Telfar tells a moving commentary about race, gender and class. In that space, he shapes an inclusive and forward-thinking identity for American fashion. 

We celebrate and dedicate the March issue of Promo Magazine to the revolutionaries, the changemakers, the misfits and the creatives. Inspired by the new year and the creative energy that the upcoming spring has brought us, we introduce you to the visually new Promo both in print and online. Don’t be afraid of change, it’s in those moments that we grow the most. 

Happy spring cleaning,

Demi Vitkute