HFR Conversations: Black Editors and Designers on Race and Fashion

Black editors and designers share their experiences in the industry

(Image: Kasheem Daniels)
(Image: Kasheem Daniels)

BlackEnterprise.com concluded our New York Fashion week with “Harlem’s Fashion Row Conversation Series: Editorial Diversity Sponsored by Pandora Jewelry.” Danielle Prescod, editor for Elle.com; Nicole Chapteau, accessories director for Allure; designer Azede Jean Pierre; and creative consultant and freelance editor Rajni Jaques all shared their personal experiences with race and fashion. Brandice Henderson Daniel, HFR’s founder, moderated the panel.

[Related: 12 Quotes from Black Fashion Experts]

Each of the panelists started by sharing how they landed their dream jobs. Danielle Prescod’s route may have been the most tedious, as she compiled a spreadsheet of about 200 designers and magazines and e-mailed each one with hopes of getting an internship. The now editor got a call back from Nylon and she was offered a position before she even left the interview.

The career women reminisced on memories of their fondest moments—like when work took Nicole, Rajni and Shiona Turini of Cosmo across the seas to Paris Fashion Week. But they also dished on the not so pleasant memories. Rajni remembered working at a small magazine and casting the two next big models, one happening to be Asian and the other African American. She was proud and eager to reveal the finished shoot, only to be told “This is not VIBE magazine!” by a displeased supervisor.

Nicole shared a similar experience while on the job at a much larger and more popular mag. In an effort to make a photo shoot more diverse, she chose models with a variety of ethnic identities. One of the photographers clearly didn’t value diversity as much as Nicole did and asked, “Why do I always have to shoot the black model?”

The panelists drew on their experiences, good and bad, to leave the audience with valuable insight. Azede, the evident rebel and creative of the bunch, said the most important thing for aspiring designers and editors is “having your vision and following that.” She emphasized that no matter what you’re faced with, you have to go full force and not focus on the negative. Prescod concluded by saying, “When you think you’re working your absolute hardest, work a little bit harder.”

Check out some of the top Tweets from the event!