Black model refuses to wear 'racist' oversized monkey ears & lips in controversial fashion show
18 February 2020, 10:40 | Updated: 18 February 2020, 10:43
Amy Lefevre, 25, was pressured to wear the accessories at a Fashion Institute of Technology runway show.
An African American model has spoken out on her refusal to wear offensive accessories of monkey ears and oversized red lips during a fashion show in New York City.
Amy Lefevre, 25, tells The New York Post that she was pressured to wear the "racist" accessories during the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) runway show of recent graduate Junkai Huang.
"I stood there almost ready to break down, telling the staff that I felt incredibly uncomfortable with having to wear these pieces and that they were clearly racist,” says Lefevre. "I was told that it was fine to feel uncomfortable for only 45 seconds."
Lefevre, who has been modelling for four years, described the incident as the worst example of bigotry she had ever experienced in the industry.
"I was literally shaking. I could not control my emotions. My whole body was shaking. I have never felt like that in my life," she said. "People of colour are struggling too much in 2020 for the promoters not to have vetted and cleared accessories for the shows."
Lefevre ultimately did walk in the show, but refused to wear either the monkey ears or the bright red lips, which had been made from a sex toy. After the show, she reportedly stormed out immediately.
The February 7th show, which took place during New York’s fashion week at Manhattan’s Pier59 Studios, was directed by FIT professor Jonathan Kyle Farmer and produced by Richard Thornn, creative director of NAMES LDN.
The controversial designs were created by recent graduate Junkai Huang. The concept behind his designs was to highlight the "ugly features of the body."
The Chinese designer did not appear to understand the racial overtones of his work, the Post reports. Other models on the runway - who were not African-American - wore the accessories during the show.
Lefevre told the publication that her agency, Q Model Management, was "furious" when she told them about the incident. However, a rep for the company told The Post they had received "conflicting reports" about Lefevre's version of events.
The report also states that another student who was backstage at the show supported Lefevre, and she claims Thornn was made aware of the issue.
"We brought it up to [Thornn] multiple times,” the witness said. "We said, ‘She cannot wear this. This is wrong.’ He screamed in my face, ‘You need to back down and get away.’ It was such a grave lack of judgment."
The student also claimed that Farmer was told by several of Lefevre's classmates the day before the show that the accessories could be seen as problematic.
In response to the incident, FIT president Dr. Joyce F. Brown told The Post: "This program protects a student’s freedom to craft their own personal and unique artistic perspectives as designers, to be even what some would consider to be provocative, so that they find that voice,"
"However provocative design and fashion might be though, my commitment to ensure that people are not made to feel uncomfortable, offended, or intimidated is also of the utmost importance not only to me personally but to the college community as well.
"We take this obligation very, very seriously and will investigate and take appropriate action regarding any complaint or concern that is made in this situation."