The lack of diversity in the fashion world means that too often, it could be a handful of non-white models to take the catwalk in a Fashion Week fashion show.
But not on Claudia Li's first catwalk this weekend. The designer born in New Zealand showed her Spring 2019 collection at New York Fashion Week and launched a series of exclusively Asian models to show her.
The designer's statement creation program was a victory for diversity in the industry, and Li says it was a particularly important movement for his first parade.
Work it! Designer Claudia Li showed off her Spring 2019 collection at New York Fashion Week on September 9
Totally committed: the designer chose only Asian models and selected 35 women for the show
Pay attention! The declaration creation movement has drawn attention in an industry where non-whites are so poorly represented
What a debut! This is Li's first catwalk after having made smaller presentations in the past
Planning: Backstage, a wall shows the alignment of models and their sets
In the past, Li has made presentations, but this was the first time he sent models on the catwalk, choosing 25 Asian women to do it.
"The casting is quite personal and I've been talking to my casting director about doing something like this for a while," he told Refinery29.
"For me, I think this collection is the right time to do it because it's our first official runway show, and this collection is about memories of how I grew up in New Zealand as an Asian woman.
"I remember being perceived in a unique way, you know, if you're Asian, you're good at math and science." No, I played field hockey and ran away from home with a boy, and my father had to drag me back. [laughs]. & # 39;
"People are beginning to realize that there is diversity within the Asian group … not just one … perspective [or] type of beauty, "he added in an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle.
Close to his heart: the collection itself was inspired by his childhood in New Zealand
"The casting is quite personal and I've been talking to my casting director about doing something like that for a while," Li said.
Recalling the stereotypes he faced, he said: "I remember that they perceived me in a unique way, you know, if you are Asian, you are good at math and science."
"I had maybe three Asian girls in my high school, and then people always thought, you're good at math, you're good at science, you're smart," Li recalled.
"I had maybe three Asian girls in my high school, and people always thought, you're good at math, you're good at science, you're smart, you do not go out at night," he said. – Well, guess what, I drove without a license. … I played field hockey. … I sang in a metal band.
& # 39; We all have different personalities. There are Asian girls [who] listen to punk; Asian girls who listen to hip-hop.
Showing others that Asians do not fall into neat stereotypes is important to the designer.
"It's about representation within Asian women: there are so many different types of us, and we have not been represented in a different way," she told Refinery29.
"I really want to show the personalities of who I am and who these girls are, and I think that is very important right now, and now is the time to do it.
& # 39; We all have different personalities. There are Asian girls [who] listen to punk; Asian girls who listen to hip-hop, "he said.
Changes: showing others that Asians do not fall into neat stereotypes is important for the designer
Ta-da! The designer is seen coming out at the end of her show
The power of the star: the crazy star of the Asian rich Awkwafina sat in the front row in the show
"Asians are not just a nationality, it's not just Chinese, it's not just Japanese, there are girls everywhere [in the show]. Within the community of Asian women, we are diverse. It's time to break free of that unique definition of Asian beauty. "
As for the collection, the designs were inspired by Li's memories of his childhood in New Zealand. He took colors from the sky and the ocean, the lilies of Mount Cook and his mother's house.
She worked on large flowers in homage to her mother's garden, drawing by hand the drawings herself, as they were applied in hand-stitched prints, embroidery and applique.
There was some star power in the front row, too: the rapper and the actress Awkwafina, who currently stars in Crazy Rich Asians, was present at the show.