A stunning African model has taken a series of iconic modeling photos to draw attention to the need for more diversity in the industry.
Deddeh Howard, who grew up in Liberia and now lives in Los Angeles. But Howard claims her first steps into the modeling business was not a very pleasant one.
Several agencies told her ‘thanks but no thanks’, explaining that they already had enough black models on their rosters.
Deddeh decided to recreate some of today’s biggest designer campaigns starring supermodels like Gisele Bundchen, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and Kate Moss.
She has done so to call for more visibility of black models.
‘Not to long ago, I would walk into various fashion model agencies and I would immediately be compared to one or two black model that they had on the roster,’ Deddeh explained.
‘Even though I was told by those agencies that I have an amazing look and [they] wish they could represent me, they already have a black model,’ Deddeh recalled.
‘It seemed as if one or two black models on the roster are enough to represent us all. When you are told that, trust me, it feels bizarre.’
Deddeh teamed up with photographer Raffael Dickreuter to reshoot some big campaigns by Gucci, Guess, Louis Vuitton and Victoria’s Secret.
For each photo the pretty model posed exactly like the original models and spokeswomen featured — Linda Evangelista, Michelle Williams, Candice Swanepoel — copying their outfits, make-up, facial expressions, and stances.
‘In a time where black people too often are in the media for being underrepresented at important events such as the Oscars, or make headlines for being targeted by the police, I felt it was time to do something positive and inspiring about my race,’ Deddeh said.
Deddeh added: ”Yesterday at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show you could see the same pattern as you can see at New York Fashion Week or any other famous fashion event – Black girls are almost invisible.’
The model went on to say: ‘There is the odd one here and there, but it always feels like an afterthought.’
‘Why can’t the big brands not embrace our diversity more and give all of us visibility? With this Black Mirror project I hope to show the world that it is time for all of us being seen.’
Raffael, the photographer, explained that a lot of time and care went into staging each photo to make sure they looked just right.
‘Everything from the clothing to the lighting needed to work, and they even had to track down the right 1939 Indian motorcycle to remake Gigi Hadid’s Guess ad.’