Leomie Anderson is a gorgeous new talent in the London fashion circle. Signed to Premier Model Management, she has been working for over 3 years with major successes including Italian Vogue, Dazed & Confused and ID. She has also modelled at Paris, New York and London Fashion Weeks. Famous not only for her obvious success, gorgeous structure and amazing wide-set eyes, Leomie is also famous for speaking her mind. She is known for voicing her perspective on why she specifically hasn’t done Milan Fashion Week or why she hasn’t been booked for jobs by less open minded designers. What may be common knowledge (or experience) for industry insiders is still rather shocking to learn. Leomie has spoken openly and candidly about industry racism and shade-ism that she has experience…. and her honesty is both thought-provoking and courageous.
I’ve heard from other black models that it’s much harder to get work in Milan. The successful black girls don’t even bother travelling there for castings, because they know they won’t do as well, even if they’ve walked for great designers in all the other cities. Even people from Milan will say that the fashion market there is very behind. They’d rather stick with what they know.
“Shadeism” definitely exists: there are different attitudes to different shades of black. Lighter-skinned models are used more than darker-skinned ones, and if darker models are used, it tends to be for a traditional African look….When designers create an African or tribal print, they’ll get a black girl to model it. I’d say I was in the middle of the spectrum — I’m dark-skinned, but I don’t have traditional African features, so I tend not to be stereotyped.
There can also be problems with hair and make-up. Hair stylists never pack black hair products, because they don’t expect to see black girls. They can be scared to work with our hair. I wouldn’t call it racism; it’s just that finding real black hair is rare. Make-up is improving — girls such as Jourdan Dunn and Ajak doing well has helped — but sometimes, when my make-up is finished, it doesn’t look as nice as it does on white skin. They don’t know how to adjust to our skin tone.
Fashion is always outrageous, though, and famously politically incorrect. The bitchiness is part of that outrageousness. If fashion stuck to the rules, it wouldn’t be such a big industry. Even if racism went away completely, they would find something else to be outrageous about. I would like to see fashion be more open and less prejudiced to different ethnicities, but it is the way it is because it’s such an exclusive world. Its exclusivity is why people want to be in it. If fashion had a broader perspective of beauty, would there be such a thing as a supermodel?