Fashion Month’s Top Models of Color

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Photo: Imaxtree

After rounding up the top models from this season’s New York, London, Milan, and Paris shows, it became clear that there were no great strides in terms of diversity on the runways in the last month. As usual, the British catwalks were the most diverse (Liya Kebede, Jourdan Dunn, and newcomer Ji Young Kwak made our ranks) — it’s where rookies test the waters and the designers are up for experimenting — and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, New York’s models are getting whiter, as Jezebel pointed out. Setting aside the openers and closers of each show, there were a handful of models of color floating around fashion month. Take Fei Fei Sun, for example, who booked 52 shows; Grace Mahary, omnipresent in the four capitals; and Soo Joo Park, now a Karl Lagerfeld favorite. Click ahead to see who else made our roll of fashion month’s top models of color.

Photo: Imaxtree/Alessandro Lucioni

Grace Mahary (IMG)

The Alberta native (her parents moved to Canada in 1983 from Eritrea) traded basketball for the runway after an opponent knocked in one of her teeth on the court. And after walking as a Givenchy exclusive for fall 2012, she booked a strong spring 2013 show list, but it didn’t come close to her success this season — she took turns for 51 designers, putting in face time at New York, London, Milan, and Paris Fashion Weeks.   Show list: Alexander Wang, BCBGMAXAZIRA, Diesel Black Gold, Edun, Helmut Lang, Jill Stuart, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Philosophy, Reed Krakoff, Richard Chai, Suno, Theory, Tommy Hilfiger, Yigal Azrouel, Christopher Kane, Erdem, Sister by Sibling, Giles, Issa London, Jonathan Saunders, Matthew Williamson, Unique, Peter Pilotto, Preen, Richard Nicoll, Alberta Ferretti, Dsquared2, Ermanno Scervino, Fendi, Gabriele Colangelo, Emilio Pucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Anthony Vaccarello, Balmain, Chalayan, Dries Van Noten, Gareth Pugh, Givenchy, H&M, Hakaan, Kenzo, Loewe, Maiyet, Miu Miu, Paco Rabanne, Paul & Joe, Sonia Rykiel, and Viktor & Rolf.

Photo: Imaxtree

Fei Fei Sun (Women)

First making the London rounds for spring 2010, Fei Fei walked the Chanel pre-fall runway that same year, and for fall 2010, she booked a handful of blue-chip shows, such as Jil Sander, Céline, Miu Miu, and Hermès. Now it’s only the crème de la crème for the Chinese model; this season, her list comprised 52 of the top designers across the board, including Alexander Wang (and Balenciaga), Tom Ford, Prada, Chanel, and Christian Dior.   Show list: Alexander Wang, Altuzarra, Anna Sui, Carolina Herrera, Derek Lam, Diane Von Furstenberg, Diesel Black Gold, Donna Karan, Jason Wu, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Narciso Rodriguez, Philosophy, Prabal Gurung, Proenza Schouler, Rag & Bone, Rodarte, Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Burch, Victoria Beckham, Burberry, Tom Ford, Alberta Ferreti, Prada, Angelo Marani (closed), DSquared2, Etro, Blumarine, Bottega Venetta, Roberto Cavalli, Jil Sander, Dolce & Gabbana, Salvatore Ferragamo, Balenciaga, Celine, Chanel, Christian Dior, Dries Van Noten, Gareth Pugh, Giambatista Valli, Givenchy, Haakan, Hermès, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kenzo, Lanvin, Paco Rabanne, Rue Du Mail, Sacai, Sonia Rykiel, Valentino, and Viktor & Rolf.

Photo: Imaxtree

Liu Wen (Marilyn)

What would a fashion month be without Liu Wen? This season, we spotted her at 33 top-notch shows.   Show list: 3.1 Phillip Lim, Anna Sui, Carolina Herrera, Derek Lam, Diane Von Furstenberg, Jason Wu, Michael Kors, Narciso Rodriguez, Prabal Gurung, Proenza Schouler, Rag & Bone, Rodarte, Burberry Prorsum, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Anthony Vaccarello, Balmain, Elie Saab, Etam, Givenchy, Hermès, H&M, Isabel Marant, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kenzo, Paco Rabanne, Shiatzy Chen (opened), Sonia Rykiel, Stella McCartney, and Viktor & Rolf.

Photo: Imaxtree/Alessandro Lucioni

Yumi Lambert (IMG)

For her sophomore season, Lambert (one quarter Japanese and three quarters Belgian) booked 43 shows; opened ICB, Michael van der Ham, and Frankie Morello; and closed Issa, Todd Lynn, and Jitrois. Though she missed Chanel — after appearing on the brand’s spring 2013 runway and in its campaign — the teenager has plenty of time to perfect her walk.   Show list: 3.1 Phillip Lim, BCBG Max Azria, Donna Karan, Hache, ICB (opened), Jill Stuart, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Nicole Miller, Oscar de la Renta, Philosophy, Richard Chai Love, Suno, Vera Wang, Y-3, DAKS, Erdem, GilesIssa (closed), Jonathan Saunders, Marios Schwab, Michael van der Ham (opened), Peter Pilotto, Richard Nicoll, Todd Lynn (closed), UniqueAnteprima, Blugirl, Blumarine, Byblos, Ermano Sevino, Etro, Frankie Morello (opened), Ter et Bantine, Carven, H&M, Hussein Chalayan, Jitrois (closed), Kenzo, Maison Martin Margiela, Nina Ricci, Paul & Joe, Shiatzy Chen, and Vionnet.

Photo: Imaxtree/Alessandro Lucioni

Ji Hye Park (Elite)

The South Korean first dropped onto the industry’s radar at spring 2011 Seoul Fashion Week and walked as an Alexander Wang semi-exclusive last season. This month, she booked 30 shows in New York, Milan, and Paris (she skipped London) and managed to make every outfit look good — from a duct-tape neckbrace to mixed prints and rubber-soled platforms.   Show list: Alexander Wang, Anna Sui, DKNY, Donna Karan, Helmut Lang, Jason Wu, Oscar De La Renta, Prabal Gurung (opened), Rag & Bone (closed), Vera Wang, Y-3, Alberta Ferretti, Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni, Moschino, Trussardi, Barbara Bui, Chloé, Costume National , Damir Doma, Haider Ackermann, Hermès, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Kenzo, Lanvin, Miu Miu, Mugler, Roland Mouret, Rue du Mail, Stella McCartney, and Vanessa Bruno.

Photo: Imaxtree/Alessandro Lucioni

Soo Joo Park (Wilhelmina)

One of the Cut’s ten rookies to watch, Soo Joo went into the fall 2013 season with a coveted spring 2013 Chanel couture exclusive under her belt, so we weren’t entirely surprised when she walked second and second-to-last at Lagerfeld’s most recent show. He also booked her for Fendi, and rounding out her 25-strong show list were appearances at Tom Ford and Rick Owens — impressive for a newbie.   Show list: Dennis Basso, Jeremy Scott, Kaufmanfranco, Ohne TitelRebecca Taylor, Zac Posen, Antipodium, John Rocha, Tom Ford, Vivienne Westwood Red Label, DSquared2, Fendi, Frankie Morello, Genny, Jo No Fui, Just Cavalli (opened), Max Mara, Missoni, Trussardi, Chanel, Loewe, Lanvin, Maiyet, Rick Owens, and Shiatzy Chen.

Photo: Imaxtree/Alessandro Lucioni

Cora Emmanuel (Elite)

Remember when Emmanuel told the Cut she thought modeling was stupid? We do! Granted, in the same interview, she admitted that she’d learned a ton about the business since starting out — “how to walk, how to act in castings, and so on … it was a growing process for me” — and this was a year and a half ago. The Martinique native has continued to thrive on the catwalk, booking 41 shows during the past month. Among them: Prada, Stella McCartney, and Dolce & Gabbana.   Show list: 3.1 Phillip Lim, Cushnie et Ochs, Diane von Furstenberg, DKNY, Donna Karan, Helmut Lang, Hervé Léger by Max Azria, Jason Wu, Jeremy Scott, Michael Kors, Richard Chai Love, Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Burch, Vera Wang, Yigal Azrouël, Daks, Erdem, Marios Schwab, Matthew Williamson, Mulberry, Tom Ford, Unique, Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, Dsquared2, Emilio Pucci, Prada, Roberto Cavalli, Akris, Balmain, Barbara Bui, Chalayan, Emanuel Ungaro (closed), Etam, Guy Laroche, H&M, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rochas, Sonia Rykiel, Stella McCartney, and Vionnet.

Photo: Imaxtree

Maria Borges (Supreme)

Another of our models to keep an eye on, Borges was brought into the fold by Riccardo Tisci, who cast her in Givenchy’s fall 2012 couture collection. And this month, more New York designers warmed up to the Angolan than in seasons past — she even walked Marc Jacobs, a coup for any model of color.    Show list: Badgley Mischka, Carolina Herrera, Carmen Marc Valvo, Chado Ralph Rucci, Costello Tagliapietra, Creatures of the Wind, Custo Barcelona, Marc Jacobs, Marchesa, Naeem Khan, Organic by John Patrick, Rachel Zoe, Sachin + Babi (closed), St. John, Tanya Taylor, Tia Cibani, Erdem, Jonathan Saunders, Moschino Cheap and Chic, Sister by Sibling, Tom Ford, Cristiano Burani, Gianfranco Ferré, Jo No Fui, Katie Grand Loves Hogan, Kristina T, Marco de Vincenzo, Max Mara, Missoni, Philipp Plein, Ports 1961, Emanuel Ungaro, Givenchy, Kenzo, Loewe, Maiyet, and Mugler.

Photo: Imaxtree

Lais Ribeiro (Women)

Sure, she debuted on the runway for the fall 2010 shows, walking at Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, Versace, Christian Dior, and Givenchy (among others), and sure, she’s had much stronger seasons, but we can take a moment to appreciate Ribeiro in all her glory, since casting directors are apparently blind.   Show list: Badgley Mischka, DKNY, Jeremy Scott, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Ohne Titel, Ralph Lauren, Akris, Alexis Mabille, Elie Saab, Etam, Guy Laroche, Hakaan, Hussein Chalayan, Jean Paul Gaultier, Jitrois, and Shiatzy Chen.

Fashion Month’s Top Models of Color