Video: Noemie Lenoir & Karl Lagerfeld discuss Racism in Fashion


This is really a fascinating video. It is completely in French but I have translated key points with the time stamps. The gist is Noemie and Karl are on opposite sides. Karl doesn’t think that the market for black fashion is as big, whilst Noemie does.

At 0:08

Karl Lagerfeld: The advantage of fashion is that there is no racism

Noemie Lenoir: Oh Karl…I am sorry but I think that there is in fashion.

0:25

NL: I am between black and white.

KL: Well you have a nice colour [literal translation of vous avez une jolie couler]

0:43

NL: Karl has started to use black women. Yves Saint Laurent helped black women. [In this bit, Noemie says ‘noir’.]

KL: Noir is a horrible word.

NL: It is not horrible. I am black [literal translation as she says, ‘c’est pas horrible, je suis noire’]

NL: Okay it is brown if you want.

1:37

KL: There is Iman, who is sublime and Naomi

NL: There are not many though

Karl later implies that the black market does not seem as interested in haute couture. I don’t want to twist his words but this is the gist I got.

2:02

NL: No, that’s not true. There are lot of rappers who wear Chanel, Louis and all the luxury labels. There are many black women and mixed-race women who have been buying designer labels for a few years.

2:37

NL: The movement has stalled. There is a problem between blacks and mixed-race people. I hope one day that will change.

3:43

NL: Why don’t we use blacks or mixed-race women?

KL: We use women who are well-known. For example, Daria [Werbowy].

4:20

KL: It’s an injustice but the core of the injustice is not that. The fact is there have not been enough of people X, in this case black people, who have fallen into the star category.

4:40

NL: When will you start using black models?

NL: Do we have to wait for the next Naomi or Iman?

Well this debate was REALLY something. Can’t believe it was done in April 2009! Noemie did not seem fazed by the fact she was going against KL, the designer of Chanel. She really gave some excellent food for thought.

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11 thoughts on “Video: Noemie Lenoir & Karl Lagerfeld discuss Racism in Fashion

  1. Of course colored or mixed-raced people are not as interested in haute couture! These people are majorly disadvantaged in the world. White people hold way more power in the world than other’s. Karl is right; he needs to exploit the materialistic, capitalistic white population of Europe and the US who buy, at ridiculous costs, his products. This is just another symptom of a totering civilization to steeped in materialism and careless of the injustices that are happening in the world – like half of the population of developing countries that are dieing slowly of inadequate water and sanitation! White, materialistic societies are far more interested in “high fashion” and flying to Milan to watch, while under the influence of drugs, skinny models walking with half their bodies draped with cloth!

  2. The verbal nonsense that comes out of this man’s mouth leaves me speechless, I can’t believe he insinuates that women of color are not interested in couture or designer labels, what rock is he still living under? Ughh…

  3. Pingback: Should We Blame the Fashion Industry for Noemie Lenoir’s Attempted Suicide? – College Fashion

  4. i found it interesting that he saw neomi as brown. It speaks volumes in that he does see the difference in shades. I do often wonder if the european Fashion world are waiting for a definite new Iman or Naomi. Fashion Designers love them.

    KL has not said anything we knew already – Fashion sees colour period full stop etc etc

    • I dont know if the majority of european fashion designers business either way about black women in fashion.

      It’s us who care and I must admit, it makes it harder for me to consider saving up for Chanel when I dont see girls like me in adverts.

  5. Hey Aulelia –

    When I grew up there were always tons of black models in major fashion magazines and on the covers of them. I have no idea what happened. KL sickened me. Thanks for sharing this video.

  6. OMG Karl Lagerfeld is so full of himself. He does an interview for the Olsen twins in their book, Influence. I wish I had it here with me because he says some outrageous things. I don’t think he is in touch with reality. The things he says make him sound foolish.

    • Lagerfeld is outrageous, that goes without saying. I think he is taking about ish he knows nowt about. I like his quotes about fashion but about bigger things like racism, he knows jack diddly.

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