In the middle of Paris Couture Week, two controversies have broken out on social media, both involving Russian fashion influencer and Buro 24/7 founder Miroslava Duma who first went under fire for posting a racial slur on her Instagram stories.
The N word was handwritten by Russian designer Ulyana Sergeenko, who is also a good friend of Mira's, on the invitation to her couture show in Paris. Mira posted a video showing the card together with the bouquet of flowers it came with on her IG Stories. They were immediately called out for this by netizens and both personalities have since posted an apology addressing the matter. As of writing, however, Ulyana's has been taken down from her Instagram.
IMAGE Harpers Bazaar
As a result of the incident, Mira was removed from parenting and children's goods company The Tot's board, in which she is a co-founder.
Many fashion insiders shared their two cents on the matter thereafter, including supermodel Naomi Campbell who expressed her disbelief at the IG story. Filipino fashion influencer Bryan Boy reposted it on his own Instagram story as well, in reaction to Ulyana's apology.
A few hours later, Bryan uploaded an old video of Mira answering questions from a talk. According to him, he was sent the video from Twitter by Jawn Didion who added the English subtitles.
In the video, Mira was presumably giving a talk about Buro 24/7, the website she co-founded. The clip features someone from her audience asking what she thinks about men like Bryan and transgender model Andreja Pejic who proudly wear women's clothing and whether she thinks it is "normal at all."
Based on the subtitles, Mira responds in the negative saying, "Honestly, I dislike that. Because somewhere, on TV or in a magazine, a little boy could see it, and that boy wouldn't understand it correctly. Wouldn't react correctly. And I think a certain kind of censorship and refined culture is needed here."
When asked further if she would ever publish Bryan and Andreja on Buro 24/7, the subtitles read, "We have censorship at Buro; we're very concerned about the beauty and purity of the things we publish. Because we understand...Well, we respect our readers too much for that."
Harper's Bazaar Australia noted that they asked a Russian speaker to check the accuracy of the subtitles and found it to be correct. However, they also indicated that the term used for "weird people" can also be used to mean "eccentric."
"Racism and bigotry is never cool. [sic] I guess I’m too weird," writes Bryan in the post, conveying his shock. The comments on the post also expressed their support and called out Mira's insensitive words for excluding a group of people on the grounds of their choice of non-heteronormative representation.
Although there was no date specified about when the video was filmed, it is estimated to have happened between 2012 to 2014 when Mira sported the same hairstyle. Their reference to the model Andreja as Andrej could be another indication given that the model only opened up about her sexuality in the middle of 2014 and was referred to as Andrej beforehand. The fashion influencer has yet to react to the video in question.
Also in 2014, Mira and Buro 24/7 were criticized for publishing a racially insensitive image of then Garage editor-in-chief Dasha Zhukova. Mira issued an apology for it as well, claiming that the racist implications of the photo was not their intention.
This isn't the first time that a personality has been criticized for racism and bigotry. In this day and age, an industry with as wide an audience as fashion has the opportunity to champion progressive thinking, inclusivity and positivity. As W Magazine quoted The Tot's co-founder Nasiba Adilova, "Power and influence is a privilege and it needs to be carried with humility." Educating yourself and being open gives a great headstart.
(UPDATED: January 25, 2018)
Mira Duma has posted another apology on social media, this time addressing the video shared by Bryan Boy. "As we all know, the world is evolving at an extraordinary pace, and we as humans evolve too. The person I was six years ago is not who I am today," she says. "In the intervening years, I have committed myself to a journey of personal growrth, where ignorance has been replaced by acceptance, and discrimination by inclusion." See her full statement on WWD posted on Instagram below: