Known for his amazing gowns and works on the runway, Ricardo Tisci is also known for having a keen eye in casting the faces of his collection. It seems like he's done it again. This time he chose the incomparable Erykah Badu to star as the face of the label's Mert & Marcus-shot campaigns.
"Erykah, she's an icon-come on!" Tisci said by phone from Paris. "What I want to do with my advertising campaign is spread the love. Already now it's been three seasons that I've been using people that express something-they are great artists, or beautiful women, or stylish women, or models that I really believe in. It's kind of a family portfolio."
The designer has known Badu slightly but had never worked with her. Even then, he said, he'd had her image in the back of his mind when he was designing the Spring 2014 collection. The collection boasts a mash-up of African and Japanese influences.
"She's one of the most stylish women I've met in my life," Tisci states. "She's got such a good sense of proportion, of colors."
An even bigger attraction than Badu's unexpected cameo in the campaign is that all of the campaign's female models are women of color. Models Maria Borges, Riley and Asia Chow are featured in the campaign. The campaign follows a season with a noticeable uptick in the use of models of color on the runway, following scathing condemnations of homogeneity in fashion from Iman and Bethann Hardison, sounding off from certain casting directors, and coverage of the issue in The New York Times.
"There was a lot of talk this season in fashion," Tisci commented. "Me, I was one of the persons who ended up not being touched by this. I discovered Joan Smalls, I discovered Maria [Borges]. I discovered a lot of black girls, and I've been always supporting them. For me, I grew up in a family and I grew up in a culture, an education, that we all are the same." (He was already working on the collection, and had Badu in mind, when the first articles came out.)
When asked if he thought the world would catch up to his lead, Tisci replied, "I hope so," he continued, "It's 2013. Everybody's being so cool about Instagram, about Facebook, any media-everybody's being so open. At the end of the day, why are not so many black girls or Latin girls in shows? When you have an American president who is black! When I see this happening, it's quite sad, I think. People can be so avant-garde, so advanced, but actually not, because people are still making differences between skin color."