The Fashion Institute of Technology has issued an apology after putting on a runway show that many have called racist.
The fashion show, which was held on Feb. 7, was in honor of the graduating students of the New York-based college’s Master of Fine Arts program. Models strutted down the runway in large monkey ears, massive red lips and bushy eyebrows, resembling historical racist caricatures.
FIT President Joyce F. Brown addressed the controversial show, saying that it was not intended to make any statement about race, but acknowledged that it did anyway.
“Currently, it does not appear that the original intent of the design, the use of accessories or the creative direction of the show was to make a statement about race,” Brown wrote in a statement. “However, it is now glaringly obvious that has been the outcome. For that, we apologize—to those who participated in the show, to students, and to anybody who has been offended by what they saw.”
One model clearly saw that the accessories were racist and refused to wear them. “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,” Amy Lefevre, who is black, told the New York Post. “I was told that it was fine to feel uncomfortable for only 45 seconds.”
Brown listed the next steps the college plans to take to ensure this never happens again.
“In the days and weeks that follow, as mentioned above, we will be taking several steps to address the concerns of our community,” the college president wrote. “We will be engaging with our Diversity Council, our Faculty Senate, the UCE, and the Student Government Association to continue this important conversation; we will put in place safeguards to ensure that a situation like this will not happen again; and finally, there will be an ongoing investigation about the event itself—how it occurred, who was involved, and why there was no immediate follow-up.”
You can read their FITs statement below.