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With all the negativity surrounding the race debate when it comes to fashion, it’s often easy to overlook the efforts of those who are striving for change and championing diversity on the runways. But supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Iman have called attention to the lack of diversity in shows, making sure the issue does not go ignored.

Each year, designers have been criticized for the lack of colored models in their shows, but there are some, like CFDA President Diane von Furstenberg, who recognize the value of diversity in the industry:

“I personally have a lot of diversity on my runways,” von Furstenberg said. “And I don’t understand why more people don’t! Black is beautiful!”

While at the SiriusXM offices in Rockefeller Center, the designer decided to shine the light on a friend and fellow fashion activist of Campbell and Iman: Bethann Hardison.

The founder of Balance Diversity, Hardison is best known for calling out designers, accusing them of racism with the hopes that things will change. Since the ’80s, she’s worked with Campbell on The Black Girl Coalition to observe the progress made after each Fashion Week, and both she and Iman were present when von Furstenberg shared the news that Hardison would be honored with a CFDA award later this year.

Hardison had no idea about the accolade, telling Fashionista:

“When she said it I knew she wasn’t joking, but I couldn’t believe it. For her to come in and tell me the good news — I looked right at Naomi and ran into her arms and started crying,” Hardison told us. As for what the exact honor it is she’ll be receiving, she laughed, “I have no idea! I don’t even care. I just need to know what day to show up!”

She went on to say that seeing diversity on the runways is much more than just figures relating the number of black models to white ones:

“I don’t look at the numbers, I look at what I see on the runway. If I see two girls in the show that weren’t there before, that’s an improvement. If I see five girls booked by a designer who hadn’t [hired any black models] before, that’s an improvement. I don’t look at it like that, but I’ve seen improvement.” Hardison believes things are looking up in the editorial world, too, saying, “I’m very proud of Anna Wintour– her January, February and March issues. It just makes you feel good, the way it looks.”

Congratulations to a worthy woman fighting for a worthy cause.


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