For Black History Month, we wanted to explore the fashion industry, from the perspective of the ones who spend LONG hours in front of the camera and on stage... the ones who give us visual pleasure via runway performances and editorial photographs... we chose, THE MODELS!
Granting us full-access into their burgeoning modeling careers, we're joined by 2 of our favorite, FAM (Fashion At Morgan) models AND cover girls, Ms. LyNéGreen and Ms. Amber Brown, who gave us their interpretation of The Color of Style...
Here’s what they had to say:
1) As a fashion model -of Pan African descent- do you feel any overwhelming pressure to go above and beyond for a client, OR overly-compete with other models, in order to prove your validity?
LyNé Green:The pressure to go above and beyond for any client should always be the case. However, as a model of Pan African descent, there is a type of pressure that you feel to stand out, because, not only are you competing against the typical Caucasian/European models... you also have to separate yourself from the OTHER ethnic models. Your validity should not have to be proven, out of competition, but from the quality of your work. In some cases, you may not even get the opportunity to show your work, due to the fact that your race may not fit their market.
As a professional model, I feel no need to compete with other models; I do, however, feel compelled to exceed the client's expectations.
2) Is there an invisible color-barrier, when it comes to casting Black models for runway and/or print?
LyNé:There is a joke in the industry that if a Black model is booked for a gig, it is because of affirmative action. It did not hit me (that the joke may be based on reality), until I was in New York, at 16 years old, modeling. In my opinion, Black models are versatile and fearless. I do not understand why there is such a stigma towards casting Black models for runway, or print.
Amber:No, there is not an invisible color-barrier when it comes to casting Black models.
3) If you -personally- are not successful as a fashion model, do you feel that there are other areas and/or opportunities for you to work within the fashion industry?
LyNé:A successful model is realistic and has the ability to bounce back. The fashion industry has so many outlets that -I believe- anyone can find an outlet that works for them. There are so many things that you can learn and branch-off into (public relations, fashion marketing, beauty, fitness, hair, etc.), the fashion industry is an open platform! You just have to have the smarts to go along with what works best for YOU! The average career of a model, ends around the age of 21-22; you have to be honest with yourself and the business.
Amber:Yes, I actually know how to do make-up, and design and sew clothes, so for me, an opportunity never ends.
4) Do you feel that the adversities against Black models are the same for male models, as well as female models?
LyNé:The adversities against Black models and male models may have some similarities, however, male models have their own market. I only find it harder for male models because the demand for them is not as high; this has to be very frustrating for them (I can imagine).
Amber:[Not sure how to respond to this question.]
5) Overall, what are some changes that you think should take place, in order for the fashion industry to become more diverse?
LyNé:For the industry to become more diverse, I think that more risks need to be made. I find it wonderful that more curvy models are gracing the runways of high-fashion and print; it is a small step for the fashion world to evolve into something greater. I do not know why the fashion industry seems to be so stubborn; a lot of people -in the industry- have expressed their complaints about the lack of African-American models on the runways, yet, I have not seen anyone actually make an effort to change it. What would it take, for a more diverse, fashion industry? Should Karl Lagerfeld only have African-American models for his next Chanel show? Or Balmain? Elie Tahari? I think that would be pretty awesome!
Amber:I think that the fashion industry should be more open to casting models of different race and color; color and diversity is really how the fashion industry came to be.
6) Do you feel that modeling is different on a local level versus a national/international level; are the opportunities the same, worse or better?
LyNé:It is really hard to compare modeling on a local level versus a national/international level, because in my opinion, it is almost like comparing Diana Ross to Beyoncé (both are respected in their own right, but one has a legacy that can never be outdone). Modeling on a local level, almost seems to be mediocre, unless you are working with the right team of people. I have worked with so many people on a local level that it makes you appreciate the art, so much more. You are almost shocked at how well the business mentality is with some people, on a local level. You tend to assume that those who only network within their town, [are] so closed-minded to original creativity, that when you do come across a team that has the business mindset of a Fortune 500 Company, it makes you want to work harder! It’s inspiring! Once you make it to the national/international level, you have to fight to stay relevant (the feeling is rewarding, but, now the same assumptions that you placed on those on a local level, are placed on you). Modeling “at home,” really, wasn’t my thing. In the DC/PG area, a lot of “swingin' & swangin'” (as I call it), is very fun and entertaining, however, sometimes it is a little bit too much. Modeling is about confidence in yourself and the designer, it is a partnership that is classic and rewarding, which should be taken seriously.
Amber:I have never modeled on a national level, but with my experiences of modeling locally (and from what I can perceive about national modeling), [is] that it is different; although, the opportunities are whatever you make them to be.
7) How long have you been modeling; and what type of model would you consider yourself to be?
LyNé:I’ve been modeling for -about- 8 years, and I have seen a lot change within myself (as a model), and within the modeling industry. I know my strengths as a model; it all comes with being smart in the business. I absolutely love runway and high-fashion modeling, but, commercial and print/ad, or beauty is my strongest suit. I’ve been in magazines, ad campaigns, and I have participated in almost hundreds of shows. I’ve been a white girl with long, blonde hair and blue eyes, and I have been the Black queen with the natural hair... to the Latina with the waves; it’s about being a chameleon and fearless! I’ve even modeled on top of buildings, watching the pedestrians, hundreds of feet below. I’m proud of myself and the versatility that I have gained. I like to believe that I have come a long way from being the 16-year-old, little girl in New York, scared to even have my hair colored for a client. But, I have learned and experienced so much, that nothing -and no one- will ever stop me! :o)
I have been modeling for 5 years; I started with Barbizon and continued throughout high school and college. [With] the training and experiences I have gained, I consider myself to be an editorial/runway and commercial/print [model, and] I hope to do some of that style of work in the future.
***For more information on LyNé Green, please visit: www.facebook.com/theefashionista
***For more information on Amber Brown, please visit: www.facebook.com (Sadie Love/Amber Brown)