A few days ago, Umit Benan showed his fall/winter 2014 collection at Paris Fashion Week with race and racism being a central aspect of the line-up and of the show. Citing Jackie Robinson as the season's main inspiration, Benan casted black models to wear the Turkish designer's tailored apparel, a remarkable switch-up from the usually homogeneous model line-ups that grace catwalks in fashion weeks around the world.
Benan always builds his collections and shows around a central figure and notion, and both Robinson and the racism he faced were behind this show, which was also the brand's first rodeo in Paris. Taking on highly-politicized issues is always a tricky project, and some are wondering if Benan missed the point of a very nuanced and complex issue. Regardless, employing an all-black cast to make a point about racism's current legacy and existence was a move that got people talking. Taking up political and societal issues within fashion shows will always be shaded with multiple levels of rightness and wrongness, but if the conversation is occurring, then that's more to be said than addressing these issues with silence.