PARIS - Paris fashion gets underway Tuesday with the industry on the defensive following a blistering attack by Iman and Naomi Campbell over the lack of black faces on the catwalks.
The pair, two of the fashion world's best known figures, teamed up with US former model-turned-activist Bethann Hardison earlier this month to launch their broadside.
The trio condemned fashion houses that use just "one or no models of colour" in a collection, saying the result was "racism", even if it was unintentional.
They named dozens of labels they considered to be most at fault including Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs.
"Eyes are on an industry that season after season watches fashion houses consistently use one or no models of colour," they said in an open letter to fashion week governing bodies.
"No matter the intention, the result is racism. Not accepting another based on the colour of their skin is clearly beyond aesthetic...." they wrote.
"It can no longer be accepted, nor confused by the use of the Asian model," they added, referring to concerns that the scarcity of specifically black models on catwalks is often glossed over by the presence of models from Asia with pale skin.
The three then took to the television airwaves in the US ahead of New York fashion week to denounce the status quo, with the Somalia-born Iman, 58, warning that the problem was getting worse rather than better.
"There were more black models working then (in the 1970s) than in 2013," she told US television.