On Saturday 28th September, after assisting to the beautiful fashion show by Rahul Mishra, I decided to rush to the Magda Butrym showroom which i was looking forward to.
I received my invitation as press early September and was very keen to discover the collection for the first time. There was only half an hour before they close so I really had to rush from Palais de Tokyo to rue Royale.
Before hand, I had a look at their Instagram page etc.., and it’s true that I didn’t see much melanin but as every fashion brand is trying on the diversity trend, I didn’t think much of the lack of dark skin people on the images representing the brand.
When I arrived, I was the only black girl in the room. I don’t know if any came before me. Having lived in a village most of my childhood, I was very very often the only black girl in the room so that never bothers me.
The first room was for the shoes. A beautiful collection displayed on “roses” as the flower is very much into the brand identity.
I could see hostesses bringing out champagne to guests but no one coming to me. Again, I didn’t think much of it since i don’t drink so I went into the next room. And there was the collection and some live models.
The collection was beautiful and reminded me of fashion campaigns of Kate Moss and Saint Laurent. Very sexy, with a rock and roll vibe, some prints and tailoring.
After walking around, taking a few pictures and making videos, I asked an hostess to show me the PR person as I wanted to know about the inspiration behind the collection. I didn’t know if the designer was in the room.
The hostess pointed to a blond girl in an all white suit, wearing Magda’s collection. She came with a look on her face, probably wondering how I landed in her showroom.
I don’t like to assume people’s thought but this was the first time that week, that I fell like I probably should have skipped a showroom.
Asia, introduced herself as the PR and straight away told me how the brand doesn’t lend clothes, or actually only to certain A-listers and bloggers. They also only do shoots with models. I thought that was fair enough if it’s the brand identity they want to preserved. All these was said in less than a minute. She wasn’t interested in who I was so I simply said I came from the magazine and gave her my card.
She was standing in front of me with gifts for the press in a branded box. A girl came to her to say goodbye and she gave her one. She gave many to other people there too. After the less than a minute conversation with me, and giving a gift to the girl in front of me, she simply said “sorry I have to go there” and went to the other side of the room to talk to other girls. I thought this was rude but I don’t like to make scenes so I kept looking at the collection. I don’t know what was in the box nor why I wasn’t “worthy” to apparently get one as the other press did.
You don’t invite people to disrespect them. If you don’t want black people in your showroom then do a background check before sending invitations. The room was cold and unfriendly. I was there for 35 minutes. Maybe I was hoping that I was getting the situation wrong. I went to a third room and asked a hostess if the designer was here and she pointed her out.
The designer was speaking with someone so I waited on the side…. 10 minutes later, because I wanted to see how this will end, a lady came up to me saying ” I see that you are waiting, did anyone walk you through the collection ?” I said no. Her name was Anya.
Her bright blue eyes were kind. She talked me through the collection and the inspiration behind it. I thanked her for that and she said she would email me but hasn’t yet. It’s ok.
I left Magda Butrym showroom feeling very very upset. I went to Poland for fashion week once and was lucky to not experience racism. So experiencing racism from a polish brand in my hometown is not acceptable!!
We don’t like racism in Fashion.
You don’t need to like me but you have to respect me, and that goes vice versa for everyone.
My cousin said when I told her the story: “what did you expect from a brand from a racist country ?” And I responded “respect, because Paris is not Poland!”
I am very disappointed of this experience and was wondering rather to write about it.
I decided to do so because it is important that things change. I never want anyone to feel as uncomfortable as they made me feel.
I am sure the brand will continue selling to its audience but as their goal is international stardom with celebrities wearing the brand. The team at Magda Butrym should get used to seeing more people of colour. They are not many but we also walk in the fashion industry. From Naomi Campbell to Adut Akech, melanin is rolling throughout fashion and racism can’t seat with us.