Fashion college probes runway show criticized as racist

FILE – In this Oct. 2, 2002, file photo, Joyce Brown, president of the Fashion Institute of Technology, stands in one of FIT’s student workrooms, in New York. In a Feb. 21, 2020 statement, the college apologized for accessories donned by models at a Feb. 7, 2020, runway show that reminded some observers of blackface. The accessories included large prosthetic ears and oversize plastic red lips, but the college said Friday they were not “aimed at invoking or provoking racial implications.” (AP Photo/Joe Kohen, File)

The Fashion Institute of Technology has commissioned an investigation into a controversial runway show that reminded some observers of blackface.

The college apologized for the accessories donned at the show, which was heavily criticized on social media. The accessories included large prosthetic ears and oversize plastic red lips, but the college said Friday they were not “aimed at invoking or provoking racial implications.”

“This moment, in our minds, is not about closing a chapter and letting wounds heal. It is the beginning of accountability. And we cannot expect our community to trust us without a full examination of how this came about,” FIT President Joyce Brown said in a statement.

The investigation will examine “what led up to” the Feb. 7 event, which coincided with New York Fashion Week.

Model Amy Lefévre, 25, who is black, refused to wear the exaggerated lips and ultimately walked the runway without them.

“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,” she told the New York Post. “I have never felt like that in my life.”

Brown said the college’s dean of the School of Graduate Studies and chair of the MFA Fashion Design Department were placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.

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Source: Associated Press