Virgil Abloh made his highly anticipated debut for Louis Vuitton at Paris Fashion Week Men’s earlier this month, making history as the first black man to design for the Parisian fashion house, receiving praise for his streetwear-inspired work. From his emotional hug with long-time friend and collaborator Kanye West, to his behind the scenes process – the show was an absolute success. But, what we didn’t pay attention to is who attended the show. At the front row sat Ian Connor, a social media personality with over 21 sexual assault allegations against him.
The first allegation came in 2016 and since, many women have come forward with their stories surrounding the social media influencer-turned-model. This information isn’t new and like Amber Rose said, “It’s innocent until proven guilty, but when you have 21 women from all over the world that do not know each other but have similar stories, it gets to the point where it’s like … enough.” Rose had helped out the women affected by Connor’s actions, who “allegedly targeted the young, poor and black, so they were too afraid to report him. They felt it was their word against that of a wealthy, well-connected celebrity hanger-on.”
It’s not just Ian Connor, who is facing multiple allegations against him, sitting front row at Louis Vuitton and 1017 ALYX 9SM, the fashion industry continues to constantly turn a blind eye. Infamous movie director Roman Polanski, who’s been a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system after fleeing the country while awaiting sentencing for statutory rape, sat front row at Miu Miu‘s Resort 2019 show. A$AP Bari, who was caught on video sexually assaulting a woman last year joined A$AP Rocky at Dior‘s Spring/Summer 2019 show at Paris Fashion Week Men’s. The list goes on and on, so why hasn’t anyone done anything? Why hasn’t anything changed?
Why are these people still given a platform in the industry? What does it take for someone to realize that there is something wrong with putting these people on a pedestal? Whether it comes down to designers and influencers being good friends, or whether it is just bad PR, supporting people that have repeatedly been accused of sexual assault, harassment and more puts the fashion industry miles away from movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up. It’s not just about giving off a bad image, it also forces women and other people, who are potential victims of similar situations, to be near them. It’s plain and simple: a woman does not deserve to feel unsafe at any point in time.
It is 2018, and we should be able to make better decisions. Where is the line drawn? Abusive and shamed photographers continue to get booked for jobs with big name magazines, offensive designers like Stefano Gabbana who has made homophobic comments and even called Selena Gomez ugly continues to be praised, and editors, influencers and more are protected by an industry-wide silence.
Ian Connor may no longer be modelling for YEEZY and appearing in lookbooks in Vogue, but he still remains in fashion’s most respected circles, sitting front-row just like Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid and more. Twenty-one sexual assault allegations, with zero consequences. How many more allegations will it take before those who have been accused of sexual assault are no longer respected in the highest of fashion circles, and when will someone speak up? It is time that the people in the industry, who are constantly challenging and changing fashion and pioneering new ideas, start to do the same across all levels. Fashion is all about the people and the ideas – so don’t give a platform to the problematic ones.