Jourdan Dunn on diversity in the fashion industry: ‘We’re 100% still not there’

dunn cover

Jourdan Dunn is one of my favorite models, and she covers the latest issue of Elle UK. I think this is her first Elle UK cover, which is strange because she’s a very big-name model in the UK especially. Even though she’s one of my favorites, I really didn’t know much about her, like that she’s only 25 years old and she has a six-year-old son, Riley Dunn. Riley’s father went to jail shortly after Riley’s birth. The charge was possession of cocaine. Damn. When she spoke to Elle, she talked about balancing motherhood with a bustling modeling career, plus she has some stuff to say about diversity in the fashion industry. Some highlights:

On diversity in fashion: ‘There are definitely a lot more girls of colour being represented. But I also feel like we’re 100% still not there. I want to see us get to a place where seeing a black girl, anywhere, is not such a big deal. Why can’t it just be the norm to see black models in campaigns and on covers and runways? It’s still too much of a big thing when this happens.’

On social media regret: ‘People always ask me, “Do you regret saying this?” I don’t have any regrets. My agency used to tell me, “Can you take that down?” And I’m like, “No.” Why would I take that down? That’s how I feel, that’s how I felt and it is what it is.’

On being a mother: ‘The one thing about parenthood no one ever warns you about. They tell you about the sleepless nights, but no one ever warns you about the guilt. He was just in the hospital last month, but I’m fortunate that he’s quite well. So if something happens at work and I don’t get an opportunity, it’s fine. I’m not gonna cry about this stuff. I’ve got bigger things to think about, like my son and if he’s OK and keeping him out of the hospital. Ultimately, I look at it like this: I am my son’s lifeline. Mummy needs to work to put food on the table and pay his school fees. So I always keep that in the back of my mind.’

[From Elle UK]

So, I had to look it up about why Riley was hospitalized – he has sickle cell disease. That’s some rough stuff, and I think it’s remarkable that Jourdan takes it all in stride, being a single mom and managing her career and business. As for her comments about diversity… I don’t have a problem with what she said. Jourdan is an in-demand model with runway, editorial and advertising work, but a lot of people in the fashion industry treat her like she’s a unicorn, or they think that if they hire her, that’s there one diversity hire and they don’t have to try to hire anyone else. Jourdan has been “the first” woman of color to front certain campaigns, magazine covers, etc, so she knows what she’s talking about.


Photos courtesy of Elle UK.

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15 Responses to “Jourdan Dunn on diversity in the fashion industry: ‘We’re 100% still not there’”

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  1. Kitten says:

    I find her so incredibly beautiful. The interview was ok..agreed with what she said about PoC in the fashion industry.

  2. Lex says:

    She was also bumped out of the Victoria Secret fashion show this past year so Kendull Jenner could walk. I love Jordan and I think she’s one of the few remaining real models. I read a lot of stories about make up artists not having correct make up for black women or not knowing how to do their hair. Definitely an issue from the top and bottom of the industry.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      The only thing VS did right last season was letting a black model be the first to walk the runway with her natural hair. Otherwise yeah sadly there’s been a long running legacy of makeup artists not having makeup for darker girls. I believe that’s partly what inspired Iman to make her own makeup line, that she remembered every photo shoot having to mix and carry her own makeup and seeing makeup artists shrug when it came time to work on her.

      • LAK says:

        Yves Saint Laurent was one of the first big companies to have make up that could be used for non white Models. It evolved out of necessity because he preferred to hire non white models on the basis that they walked better – his view. He created a line to use on his ladies which was available in very exclusive, and very limited amounts at high end stores. I had an aunt who walked for him in the 70s, which is how we knew about the make up.

        Sadly, when he sold his company at the end of 1999, that also marked the whiting out of his runway. The new company owners decided to expand his make up range to make it more commercial and to a wider audience, and the first thing to go was the hues that better suited darker skin. They kept the deep hues of lipsticks and eye make up, but all else disappeared. It was many years before they re-introduced them again, and even then, not as wide ranging as they had been before.

        That said, for all his progressive hiring of non white models for his runway, he didn’t hire them for his editorials.

    • CornyBlue says:

      That is a rumour tho. VS could have let one of the lesser known girls go.

      • Lex says:

        But Jordan was listed as a model for months prior to the show. She also posted that sassy tweet regarding Rhianna bailing so there’s definitely bad blood there.

  3. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    Can’t disagree with a single point she made.

    So sorry to hear her son is sick but so proud of her for stepping up and being such an amazing single parent. I remember when she first started modeling again after the pregnancy and how she took the same determined and intelligent approach about how low the expectations were for her and how she wasn’t going to be a cliche.

  4. Cynthia says:

    I love Jourdan and she’s absolutely right. It broke my heart to see Ajak Deng (one of my favourite models ever) retire from the modeling industry after being vocal about racism many times.

  5. err says:

    Agree with everything she said but it really bothers me how the diversity question is posed as “black and white” these days. What about the asian, indian and hispanic models who arguably have a much worse time of it?

  6. CornyBlue says:

    I love her. She is stunning. Her cooking show is gorgeous and the episode she did with Karlie Kloss made me fall in love with both of them.

  7. QQ says:

    Her and Leomie Anderson and a few other ladies were on social media this weekend basically speaking on this, how makeup artists and hair people eevn WHEN they do book em, will not have any type of foundation or products to do them up as well as they do their white counterparts, that they have to bring their own foundation/hair items etc,

    • INeedANap says:

      That stuff boggles my mind. Why do you need 15 shades of pale-as-f*ck when you’re going to mix colors anyway, but don’t carry anything darker than Jessica Alba? If I showed up to my job with insufficient tools and shrugged, I’d be laughed out of the office.

    • LAK says:

      What’s even more mindboggling about this is that one of the most influential, and frequently hired make up artists is a black woman called Pat MacGrath. She is right at the centre of every major campaign and runway, of every major fashion house and yet…….crickets!!!

  8. kri says:

    She’s lovely. And her little baby suffering with SC. Oh, man. That sucks. Thank god she has a job that can at least be a little flexible. Best to her and her boy-she seems awesome.