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Chanel Appoints its first Head of Diversity and Inclusion

Following Lagerfeld's passing, the house has been making a few changes to its dynamic

Chanel Appoints its first Head of Diversity and Inclusion  Following Lagerfeld's passing, the house has been making a few changes to its dynamic

In the past year, the topic of diversity has been a major concern in the world of fashion. Several brands have been called out by their consumers either for the lack of diversity during runway shows or for insensitivity towards ethnic minorities during campaigns and general public encounters with designers. Each fashion house that has encountered such scandals have been forced to confront them with effective solutions that not only show remorse for their actions, but that also express a sort of care and consideration towards the wider community of their consumers.

In March, Gucci announced the implementation of a racial diversity initiative helmed by designer Dapper Dan following the release of their balaclava jumper in resemblance to blackface; Prada assembled a diversity and inclusion advisory council with filmmaker Ava DuVernay and artist Theaster Gates as co-chairs following the scandal of the release of their keychain that was also accused of being resemblant of blackface; and Dolce & Gabbana suffered major financial loss following an ignorant campaign and racially offensive comments made by the brand’s co-founder Stefano Gabbana. 

Although a few months late to the party, the latest initiative has been made by French fashion house Chanel who this morning announced with BOF, the institution of its first Head of Diversity & Inclusion position which will be taken on by Fiona Pargeter. Although the role is a new position for the French fashion house, Pargeter is expected to strive as she previously held a similar role as Head of Diversity & Inclusion for the Swiss Bank UBS across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 

In retrospect, Chanel’s track record for diversity on the runways has been quite erratic, some seasons, like Fall 2018 Couture show had made history with Adut Akech as Chanel’s second black bride in their history of couture to close the show, while other seasons like the Fall 2017 RTW showcased only 4-5 models of colour out of 95 looks. Which leads one to believe that although diversity may have been somewhat of a factor during their shows, it may not necessarily have been a priority. 

However, in the past year, the house has experienced quite a bit of shift in direction following the death of its longtime creative director Karl Lagerfeld, which was followed by the appointment of his protégés Virginie Viard and Eric Pfrunder as artistic directors of fashion collections and fashion image respectively. 

The concept of diversity in fashion is simple, if one is trying to sell to all types of people, one needs to represent all types of people, and Chanel’s presence within the black and Asian communities especially has been iconic since the early 2000s. So of course, with these new directors on board, there is bound to be some level of change in direction towards the brand’s vision, and perhaps Fiona Pargeter’s addition to the team may offer a more prioritized and comprehensive focus towards their minority audiences.