September 26, 2023
Iman Boycotted Céline After Designer Whined Of Being ‘Forced’ To Work With Black Models
Supermodel Iman is recalling the time she boycotted the luxury fashion house Céline, whose former creative director she accused of racism.
An old video clip from Iman’s September 2022 appearance on “Sway’s Universe” recently surfaced online that sheds light on why she took a stance against the fashion powerhouse a decade ago. Iman called out Phoebe Philo in the interview for allegedly complaining about being “forced” to work with Black models.
Iman cited Philo’s racist complaints as the reason why she has “never” purchased a Céline bag.
“She has the right to her runway, and I have the right to my pocketbook,” Iman quipped.
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It was 2013 when Naomi Campbell joined Iman’s Diversity Coalition, which called out major fashion brands for their history of racism toward Black models and consumers.
“There were more Black models on the catwalk when I started in the 1970s than there are today,” Iman told the Evening Standard at the time.
“The absence of models of color sends a message to our young girls that they are not good enough, they are not beautiful enough.”
“Photography and the runways are such powerful tools, and say such a lot about our society. It is so much bigger than the catwalk,” she continued.
While brands like Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Chanel, Armani, Gucci, Saint Laurent, Victoria Beckham, Roberto Cavalli, and Marc by Marc Jacobs were included in the open letter sent to the fashion governing bodies in New York, London, Paris, and Milan at the time, there was one designer who was called out by name.
“Phoebe Philo—she’s a cool girl. But Céline has never had a colored person showing in their collection. Ever,” Bethann Hardison, a former model and model agent, claimed. “And yet they have the best accessories; every Black woman who has money buys her accessories.”
It was then that Iman announced her boycott against the French luxury fashion brand.
“Not me,” she replied, “I walk the walk. I can get another It-bag. I have my wallet. I make a conscious decision not to buy that stuff.”