Milan Fashion Week to include Black Lives Matter event

MILAN (AP) — The Italian fashion council’s only Black designer has hailed as a ‘’breakthrough’’ the inclusion of a Black Lives Matter event to the official September show calendar and the formation of a working group aimed at ending racial discrimination in Italian fashion.

Stella Jean, a Haitian-Italian designer based in Rome, has been pressuring the Italian National Fashion Chamber to promote cultural reform through concrete commitments toward greater racial diversity, spurred by top fashion houses’ social media posts supporting Black Lives Matter. She and other Black creatives in Italian fashion pushed for greater substance.

Five Black-led Italian brands, discovered by the founder of the independent AFRO Fashion Week Milano, will make a digital presentation during the hybrid physical-digital Milan Fashion Week from Sept. 23-28, the national fashion chamber announced Thursday. And the week will open with a closed-door working group of key council members under the banner “Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion.’’

Jean, in an Instagram post welcoming the events, called on brands ‘’that have committed the most notable international missteps’’ to join the event.

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“Italian Fashion shall no longer hide behind excuses and justifications that point the conversation to other countries,’’ Jean said. “We are not asking for a seat at the table. It is past time for change.’’

Fashion houses including Prada, Gucci, Dolce&Gabbana and Marni have all had to apologize for racially-charged gaffes over recent seasons. Jean and other contend that such gaffes are only indicative of the lack of diversity behind the scenes in Italian fashion.

On the schedule announced Thursday, Fendi, Versace and Ferragamo will be among 23 fashion houses holding physical runway shows during fashion week, while 41 others, including Prada and Giorgio Armani, have opted instead to maintain a digital presence due to coronavirus concerns. Events will be streamed on the council’s website, as well as on mega-screens set up in key Milan locations.

Valentino, which is based in Rome but normally shows in Paris, announced it will show its co-ed collection in Milan due to travel restrictions related to the virus.

Council president Carlo Capasa said during a streamed presentation that journalists and buyers from Europe have already indicated plans to travel to Milan for the events, which also include showrooms that are critical for selling the collections around the world.

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