After using a black model in their ad campaign for the first time in 19 years, 19-year-old Malaika Firth in 2013, Iconic Fashion label Prada gave the world another surprise this 2015 Paris Fashion Week.
For decades in runway seasons Prada had no black models on its catwalks. In the 90s we saw streams of European models seamlessly strut the Miuccia Prada designs and it was only till the late 2000s that we began viewing growing numbers of models of darker shades ; Asians, Hispanics and blacks on their runway. Of one of those new entrants include Malaika firth, Prada’s first black campaign model in almost 2 decades.
But this season, Prada quaked the fashion world with the magic of au naturelle hair represented in varying styles of miniature afros by fabulous black models: Lineisy Montero, Karly Loyce et al who graced this year’s Parisian runway with elegance blended in a touch of afrocentricity.
In an era where black hair is either chemically stretched, altered or retorched and black models rarely seen on runways with their real hair in display, we find this a welcome development especially for the fashion industry.
The natural black hair movement has been around since the 50s and 60s but with the birth of hair alteration chemicals as an alternative to managing the quirks of a stronger hair breed, came the dearth of the natural Afro for women of colour. And since then ongoing debates have been around the balck woman and her hair that it has become an almost sensitive subject triggering racially conjectured sentiments.
I am brought to memory the Guiliana Rancic statement on E’s Fashion Police about dreadlocks, weed and patchouli, the outrage it awakened in the social media whilst reminiscing on soul sista , India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair” hit single. The re-birth of the afro went live on Prada’s catwalk this season and the result has been a positive social awakening to natural hair consciousness.
A great new age for Prada in this re-invocation of a vintage trend which has long since been neglected across the times but which truly shows the beauty of natural hair and why we women of colour should not fear to wear our African hair real and wear it proud!