We’re Finally Seeing A More Inclusive Approach To Casting – And It Needs To Happen More

Real women buy these clothes - why not put them on the catwalk?

chloe fendi emilia wickstead paris fashion week

by Natalie Hammond |
Updated on

There’s been more discussion of coronavirus than clothes, but fashion month has produced another talking point. Instead of show after show with homogenous model line-ups, agents have taken a more inclusive approach to casting for AW20. Several of this week’s big ticket brands in Paris have taken steps in the right direction when it comes to race, body and age diversity - and it’s encouraging to watch the results.

lous the yakuza chloe paris fashion week
Lous the Yakuza at Chloé ©Jason Lloyd-Evans

Natacha Ramsay-Levi mixed models with working women for her sixth collection as Chloé’s creative director. Yes, they might be actors, singers and directors, but it’s still refreshing to see real faces. Chloé’s cool-girl army included the singer Lous and the Yakuza, who also sat front row at Kenzo and Dior, the Turkish-French director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, the Greek-French actor Ariane Labed and the singer Kenzie.

kenzie chloe paris fashion week
Kenzie at Chloé ©Jason Lloyd-Evans

The clothes - including cardigans tucked in denim maxi skirts, trouser suits with Seventies flavour and combat-style shorts - looked all the better for being shown on real women’s bodies.

mouchette bell emilia wickstead london fashion week
Mouchette Bell at Emilia Wickstead ©Jason Lloyd-Evans

Emilia Wickstead took a similar approach for her show at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, with a roll call that included models in their sixties such as Stephanie Grainger and Mouchette Bell. These women fit quite naturally with Wickstead’s signature brand of demure elegance, perhaps more so than models in their early twenties who live in jeans, trainers and leather jackets instead of demure point-collar dresses and ladylike top-handle bags.

stephanie grainger emilia wickstead london fashion week
Stephanie Grainger at Emilia Wickstead ©Jason Lloyd-Evans

The balance, obviously, is still skewed towards sample-size models, but what these small steps signal, however tentatively, is that the scales might soon tip.


SEE: Everything Happening At Paris Fashion Week

Kenneth Ize makes a starry debut1 of 19

Kenneth Ize makes a starry debut

Austrian-Nigerian designer Kenneth Ize pulled in the big guns for his Paris Fashion Week debut. Imaan Hamman, Naomi Campbell and Adwoa Aboah all flew in to show their support - and the clothes themselves had bags of feel-good flavour in their colour and comfort-factor.

Dior brings back the waistcoat2 of 19

Dior brings back the waistcoat

You might not have considered the waistcoat as a sensible addition to your wardrobe, well, ever, but Maria Grazia Chiuri might change your mind this autumn. She sent several down today's catwalk, which was hung with giant letters spelling 'CONSENT', including this trench design with a fringed hem and slits for the arms to breathe.

Saint Laurent is big on Eighties flavour3 of 19

Saint Laurent is big on Eighties flavour

Saint Laurent went big on spectacle, spotlighting models as they stomped down the catwalk in jewel-toned latex trousers. If the wet-look is filed under 'too much' in your mind, the return of colour-blocking - think scarlet, violet and chartreuse for starters - is surely a tantalising option.

Dries Van Noten's flora and fauna4 of 19
CREDIT: Jason Lloyd-Evans

Dries Van Noten's flora and fauna

Dries Van Noten was a typically beautiful exploration of print and its power. One of our favourites was this leaf-splashed mac paired with snakeskin boots, a look that brought the rainforest canopy to the city of lights.

Lanvin goes oh-so-ladylike5 of 19
CREDIT: Jason Lloyd-Evans

Lanvin goes oh-so-ladylike

Lanvin was a 2020 take on the classic bourgeois wardrobe, with elbow-length gloves, richly-coloured coats, top-handle bags, elegantly coiffed hair and, naturally, ladylike pumps.

Maison Margiela is, well, weather-appropriate6 of 19
CREDIT: Jason Lloyd-Evans

Maison Margiela is, well, weather-appropriate

You can always count on Maison Margiela for delivering look-twice clothes and styling, but this all-black ensemble, comprised of bucket hat, slick raincoat and sensible brogues, is just the sort of thing one needs at the beginning of a British autumn, no?

Balmain brings back the 80s power blazer7 of 19
CREDIT: Getty Images

Balmain brings back the 80s power blazer

Balmain gave a nod to the 80s this season, with oversized, doubled-breasted blazers, complete with retro brass buttons. There was definitely a sense of masculinity about this collection, with the majority of looks incorporating power shoulders and slick-backed hair to match.

Loewe and lapels8 of 19
CREDIT: Getty Images

Loewe and lapels

Loewe's show saw some interestingly oversized lapels incorporated in outwear, like this trench coat.

Isabel Marant signals to the waist9 of 19
CREDIT: Getty Images

Isabel Marant signals to the waist

Belts were a big feature at the Isabel Marant show. Nearly every look was cinched in at the waist to create a feminine silhouette, against oversized and chunky knitwear.

Off-White's new take on practical dressing for your wedding10 of 19
CREDIT: Getty Images

Off-White's new take on practical dressing for your wedding

Here-comes-the-bride, dressed-in-Off-White. Only Virgil would incorporate a windbreaker and a wedding dress. But, we're into it, and it's practical, given the recent weather. Also, what's a wedding without your close family beside you? No, we're not just talking about Bella, Yolanda walked in the show too.

Paco Rabanne opts for armour11 of 19
CREDIT: Getty Images

Paco Rabanne opts for armour

There were several knights in shining armour at the Paco Rabanne show, and aside from thinking how heavy it must all be, we're pleasantly surprised with the theatrical use of Paco's usual metal chainmail technique.

Chlou00e9 embraces the long necklace12 of 19
CREDIT: Getty Images

Chloé embraces the long necklace

The Chloé show was full of classic heritage prints, like this argyle roll neck. Fair Isle knits were also spotted and so were checks. The collection felt very country-chic, and we're not over the quilted coat – perfect for a Sunday dog walk right? Also, please note, the long statement necklaces, very 2008.

Celine channels its signature Seventies style13 of 19
CREDIT: Getty Images

Celine channels its signature Seventies style

Hedi Slimane isn't reinventing the wheel each season. Instead, his clothes for Celine are wardrobe classics that will prove brilliantly wearable, not just this year but this decade.

Balenciaga's flooded catwalk makes a statement on climate change14 of 19
CREDIT: Getty Images

Balenciaga's flooded catwalk makes a statement on climate change

Demna Gvasalia took a typically confronting approach to set design for Balenciaga's AW20 show, flooding the catwalk to send a message about the climate crisis and rising sea levels.

Valentino's fairytale gowns15 of 19
CREDIT: Getty Images

Valentino's fairytale gowns

The gowns are genuinely gasp-worthy at Valentino - and this season's were no different. This semi-sheer floor-sweeper was flecked with sequins and full of drama.

Givenchy dials up the drama16 of 19
CREDIT: Getty Images

Givenchy dials up the drama

The Givenchy silhouette was supersized for AW20, with hats that took on Handmaid's Tale proportions and dramatically elongated capes.

Stella McCartney's enlists furry friends for finale17 of 19

Stella McCartney's enlists furry friends for finale

First we had Balenciaga's flooded show space, creative director Demna Gvasalia's comment on rising sea levels, then Stella McCartney invited a series of furry friends onto her catwalk to raise awareness about animal welfare. The designer has long championed the use of sustainable fur and leather alternatives and, when the results look this good, here's hoping more designers put their innovative caps on.

Giambattista Valli gives us girlish elegance18 of 19

Giambattista Valli gives us girlish elegance

You can always rely on Giambattista Valli to deliver girlishness. This off-the-shoulder gown, that stops short of the ankle, is just one dreamy example.

Alexander McQueen joins the latex army19 of 19

Alexander McQueen joins the latex army

Kim and Kourtney Kardashian both wore latex leggings to Kanye West's Sunday Service - and last night Alexander McQueen is backed the wet-look bottom half. Expect to see them everywhere come September.

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