NYFW Show Illustrates There's 'No Single Way To Be An Asian Woman' With 35 Asian Models

"It is past time that we are seen for, and allowed, our full humanity."

Fashion Week has had a long history of lacking diversity on the runway, but over the years designers have been making more of an effort to cast models of all different ethnicities, ages, and abilities. Now that New York Fashion Week in full swing, we are seeing an even more colorful runway. Designer Claudia Li is the latest to catch our attention with her Spring 2019 show. 

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The fashion designer cast all Asian models to show the diversity of Asian women.

Thirty-five Asian models were featured in the show. It was significant not just for the casting choice, but because this was also the designer's first runway show. Previously, she had only done presentations.

"The casting is quite personal and I've been talking to my casting director about doing something like this for a while now," Li told Refinery29 backstage at the show. "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 all about memories of how I grew up in New Zealand as an Asian woman."

She discussed how she was "perceived in a singular way" and was often stereotyped as being good at math and science even though she didn't identify with the narrow view.

Li continued the discussion on Instagram with a post about what the casting meant.

It began, "There is no single way to 'be' an Asian woman. I'm glad our culture is finally having a conversation about how Asian identity is represented and portrayed, and I see this season's show as my personal contribution to it."

She references the assumptions and stereotypes she has encountered and how others have also experienced them. Now, she's calling for a change.

"It is past time that we are seen for, and allowed, our full humanity. We can be rebellious, loud, dramatic, obnoxious, fun."

One of the people in the front row showing support was none other than Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina.

Li's runway show comes after Kenzo cast 83 Asian models in its Spring 2018 show and after a diversity report for the Fall 2018 shows revealed that "the shows were the most race and transgender-inclusive ever." 

There is still more work to be done, but the events suggest fashion, like film, is also making strides in becoming more inclusive and diverse.

(H/T: Yahoo!)

Cover image via  FashionStock.com I Shutterstock

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