Visual Culture

Prada appointed Theaster Gates and Ava DuVernay to chair its new diversity council.

Benjamin Sutton
Feb 14, 2019 4:17PM, via WWD

Theaster Gates and The Black Monks of Mississippi perform at Prada Mode Miami on December 6, 2018. Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Prada,

Artist Theaster Gates and filmmaker Ava DuVernay have been tapped to co-chair a newly formed “Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council” for fashion house Prada. The move comes after a slew of controversies in the fashion world surrounding racist designs. Most recently, Gucci pulled a line of $890 sweaters that evoked blackface makeup; and in December, Prada withdrew a set of bag charms featuring monkeys with exaggerated lips, evoking racist caricatures.

Miuccia Prada, the lead creative director for Prada and, with her husband, its co-CEO, told WWD:

In addition to amplifying voices of color within the industry we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live, and we are thrilled to be working with longtime collaborators Ava DuVernay and Theaster Gates on this important initiative. We look forward to working with the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to help us grow not only as a company but also as individuals.

The new council’s activities will include advising the Italian fashion house on developing and hiring diverse talent and fostering more opportunities for students of color entering the fashion industry. This will include developing apprenticeship and internship programs in underrepresented communities, as well as sponsoring training initiatives and scholarship programs.

Gates, who is also the founder and executive director Chicago's Rebuild Foundation, curated the recent exhibition “The Black Image Corporation” at Fondazione Prada, the fashion house’s Milan museum, which in 2016, also hosted a solo show of his work.

“My work amplifies the voices that have been absent from broad cultural conversations, and I am happy to partner with Prada to advise on processes that will make the company and industry more reflective of the world today,” Gates told WWD.

Benjamin Sutton