Fashion ads find room for more black models


All of a sudden, it seems, increasing numbers of black models are appearing in fashion advertising in Vogue, Elle, Mirabella and the New York Times magazine.

The new Ralph Lauren national ads for his spring collection feature black model Tyra Banks, the 19-year-old sensation. Gianni Versace's new ad makes prominent use of Naomi Campbell, and Donna Karan used a cigar-smoking black man as a promotion for her menswear line.

What's going on? Could it be that complaints from minorities are finally being heard by the fashion industry?

Last year, the industry was taken to task for the lack of black

and minority models in its advertising after studies showed that black models appeared in only 3 percent of fashion advertising in consumer magazines.

In December, models Campbell, Iman, Veronica Webb and others denounced racism in the fashion business at a news conference called by the Black Girls' Coalition, an association of black models. Ms. Campbell and her runway sisters declared that many designers employed them for shows but shunned them for fashion ads. (Exceptions included The Gap and Benetton, both noted for their multiracial ads, and designers Issey Miyake and Yves St. Laurent.)

After that came talk in the black community of a national boycott of the wares of Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, two designers known for campaigns that feature white models.

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