Image Credit: E Online
Image Credit: IG/ @aurorajames
"Here's to hoping that people of color will be recognized as more than inspirations and 'muses' one day," says Aurora James in her IG stories after the CFDA Awards, apologizing to her followers and proclaiming that she would make it up to them.
The Brother Vellies founder and creative director was nominated for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent at this year's "fashion oscars." She was the second black woman to be nominated for the award, following Carly Cushnie of Cushnie et Ochs. James was nominated for her amazing work in accessories design and in creating opportunities of employment for women in underserved communities in Morocco, South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya. With Brother Vellies, not only is James creating sustainable jobs in Africa, but she has introduced traditional African footwear and craftsmanship to the American fashion space.
Among the nominees in the category for 2018 alongside James were Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, Kristopher Brock and Laura Vassar Brock of Brock Collection, Sander Lak of Sies Marjan and Mike Amiri of Amiri. Sandar Lak took home the award.
The thing that hurts here is that no matter the amount of work that black people do for the fashion industry, the frequency of their work being celebrated on a main stage is few and far between. Like James mentioned in her IG story, everyone is inspired by those within the black community and black people are always someone's muse in this industry. However, when the fashion industry has to make a decision on who will come out on top, designers and tastemakers and stylists (the list goes on) of color are rarely chosen to take the top spot. We are the muse of the culture but are not being rightfully credited as such. Time and time again, we are the honorable mention. The same black figures and figures of color are recycled in the forefront as a means to pacify the issue. We are looked down upon for standing in and showcasing our truths, stories and aesthetics but are forced to stand by and watch everyone else take credit for what started with our communities. Every time a person of color is celebrated or appointed to a high position or the like, the moment is monumental. At some point, the fashion has to get to a point where inclusion and diversity and giving people their flowers and praise while they're still here is commonplace. The hype surrounding appointments like Elaine Welteroth, Edward Enninful and Virgil Abloh or other happenings concerning black men and women in this industry die down just as quickly as the moments arise. Then it's off to the next thing; business as usual. I will always celebrate and shed light on black men and women that are doing amazing things in the industry that I've grown to love. While we don't need to look to the mainstream to validate our existence in fashion spaces, it'd be nice to actually be celebrated for our accomplishments and contributions on the same level that our fair-skinned counterparts are.
Aurora James deserved better. Kerby Jean-Raymond also deserved better. We, as a community, also have to be vigilant about putting our own on pedestals, celebrating our own and not waiting for others to realize our value. We have to choose ourselves when no one else will.
I will always be thankful to all of the designers of color who continue to feed the industry that we have so much love for even when the industry doesn't always show love in return.
Welcome to FashionSinatra.com. I write about fashion things and elements of the culture that move me. Enjoy!