Los Angeles Fashion Week has come under fire for discriminating against several Filipina models, as one of the producers allegedly told them that “no Filipinos” were allowed.
Singer Kiana Valenciano, the daughter of Gary Valenciano and artist-manager Angeli Pangilinan, was invited to walk in the event, admitting that it would be her first time to “walk in something this big”.
That’s why she was surprised when she, along with Miss Earth 2014 Jamie Herrell and five other Filipina models, were barred from accessing the backstage. Puzzled, the women asked why, to which one of the producers, Eric Rosete, responded “no Filipinos” would be permitted in the event.
Valenciano’s momager, Pangilinan, told reporters that they were confused by the blatant discrimination against Filipinos — not only because they had been invited to participate, but because the show featured two Filipino designers: Rocky Gathercole and Resty Lagare.
Jacob Meir, founder of For the Stars Fashion House in Los Angeles and organizer of the event in conjunction with the AIDS Foundation, was furious with the discrimination the models faced. “[I’m] where I am because of Filipinos,” he was quoted as saying.
In a show of solidarity with the unfairly rejected Filipina models, Meir, Gathercole, and Lagare refused to attend the event.
Pangilinan later released a statement regarding the incident:
“I am so sad that Kiana was not able to participate in the opening day of the prestigious LA Fashion Week as she was invited for a very special cause — the AIDS Foundation.”
“Seven Filipinas, including former Miss Earth Jamie Herrell and Kiana, were not being allowed to walk the ramp for the opening fashion show at The MacArthur at 9pm of Elie Madi, and ironically two top Filipino designers, Resty Lagare and Rocky Gathercole.
“All flew into Los Angeles for the fundraiser from the Middle East and the Philippines. Due to this situation, Jacob Meir, the owner of For the Stars Fashion House, the ‘home’ of the three designers in Melrose Avenue, refused to allow the designers to continue with the fashion show because he would not allow the show to go on without the Filipino models, Jamie and Kiana. He is planning another event instead.
“I believe however that everything happens for a reason and that God has better plans for Kiana. In behalf of Manila Genesis and Kiana, Gary and I would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to all of those who continue to believe in and support her.”
Valenciano also spoke about the incident, kindly thinking of the other models who were refused entry:
“To the models who were rejected, the opinion of one guy does not define who you are, I’ve never met you, I’ve never seen you but I can already tell that you’re stronger than people think you are because you through tonight,” she told reporters.
She also let her Twitter followers know that she felt stronger than ever:
I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud to be a Filipina 🇵🇭
— Kiana 🌙 (@KianaVee) March 13, 2018
NextShark has reached out to the venue for a comment and will update the article as new details arrive.