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Why Balmain Did It Right (And Why High Fashion Should Follow Suit)


This year’s Cannes Film Festival has taken a very political turn and the press call for the project “Noire N’est Pas Mon Metier” a.k.a. “Black Is Not My Profession” was no different. The project, directed by Aïssa Maïga, is a multimedia documentary that highlights discrimination in the entertainment industry via personal stories from an ensemble of black actresses. Balmain came into play when Maïga asked their creative director, Olivier Rousteing, to dress the ensemble. Rousteing was said to have immediately been on board saying “The simple message of the importance of inclusion that these actors are bringing to us is one that I’ve often repeated over the years, and I’ve been lucky enough to work at a house that believes in it as strongly as I do”.

All people being represented on all platforms is important because it doesn’t create false narratives and everyone’s story is told.

My favourite part of that quote was “simple message of the importance on inclusion” because it really is that simple. It’s not hard to represent all of the people that live on this planet and I’m very pleased to see Balmain understood that. Many fashion houses have an exclusive stigma to them that only specific people fall under, and black women don’t usually fall into the predetermined categories of various maisons. All people being represented on all platforms is important because it doesn’t create false narratives and everyone’s story is told. When we are aware of what everyone goes through we have that understanding and understanding is a contributing factor to solving problems.

Fashion plays a big role in bridging the gap between the people it’s always been aimed to accommodate versus everyday people by creating a space and a platform that is both understanding and diverse. Our struggles are not a trend nor a token, they are real life. Fashion has the power to make a statement far beyond the actual material products that are made.  I’m proud of Balmain for stepping up and playing the role model .

In the future, I would like to see genuine efforts from the fashion industry to be more inclusive and benevolent beyond saving face. We don’t want one black face in a sea of white face or a petty gala to save some specific species of bird. People want to be heard, helped, and included in the conversation when their culture is being used. It would be great to see Balmain donating any money made from this special collection to causes that benefit young black girls in France and America. I always say after awareness comes action so it seems like it’s only right.

Written by Shay Wireman


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