‘Clearly racist’: N.Y. fashion school apologizes for offensive runway outfits

A model walks the runway wearing Junkai Huang during the Fashion Institute Of Technology's Fine Art Of Fashion And Technology Show at Pier 59 Studios on Feb. 7, 2020. Getty Images

A New York fashion college has officially apologized after it came under fire for a runway show deemed racist.

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)’s Fine Art of Fashion and Technology show on Feb. 7 featured designs by Junkai Huang. Part of the outfits included over-sized lip and ear accessories worn by the models.

But one Black model, Amy Lefévre, refused to wear them, telling the New York Post that the items were “clearly racist.”

She added that when she opened up about her concerns, she was told by organizers “it was fine to feel uncomfortable for only 45 seconds.”

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“I stood there almost ready to break down, telling the staff that I felt incredibly uncomfortable with having to wear these pieces and that they were clearly racist,” the 25-year-old told the Post.

Joyce Brown, president of FIT, released a statement regarding the incident on Instagram two days ago, saying there was an “unfortunate and disturbing reaction” to the use of exaggerated lips, ears and eyebrows.

“Currently it does not appear that the original intent of the design, the use of accessories or the creative direction of the show, was to make a statement about race,” she continued. “However, it is now glaringly obvious that has been the outcome.”

Jonathan Farmer, chair of MFA Fashion Design, also took to Instagram to apologize about the incident, and directly to Lefévre, writing: “I deeply apologize for any harm and pain I’ve caused to those involved with the show, including Amy Lefévre.”

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“I take full responsibility and am committed to learning from this situation and taking steps to do better. Again, I apologize.”

Lefévre has been modelling for four years and has walked in two dozen fashion shows before. This was new for her.

READ MORE: Gucci apologizes after ‘blackface’ sweater causes backlash [2019]

“I was literally shaking. I could not control my emotions. My whole body was shaking,” she continued. “I have never felt like that in my life. People of colour are struggling too much in 2020 for the promoters not to have vetted and cleared accessories for the shows.”

While Lefévre continued in the show, she refused to wear the ears and lips and left the event immediately afterwards, the Post reports.

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