The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) hosted a catwalk show for designers of its first MFA Fashion Design class on February 7, which resulted in an internal investigation and the suspension of two administrators.
The New York Times reported Junkai Huang, 27, who recently graduated from FIT, had been unable to find any accessories to complement his designs when administrators suggested items including a pair of oversized lips and “monkey” ears which cost $10 apiece.
When 25-year-old model Amy Lefevre was presented with the accessories, she said: “I let the staff know that I did not want to wear these pieces as they were clearly racist and made me incredibly uncomfortable.”
According to the report, Huang was happy to let Lefevre walk without the accessories but the director of the show, Richard Thornn, had “yelled at student designers to move away” and pressured her to wear them.
The school’s president Dr. Joyce Brown, who is African-American, released a statement stating that “the styling and accessorizing used in the show were provided to him rather than chosen at his discretion.”
Huang, who is originally from Qingdao, Eastern China, and has lived in New York City since 2017, said that he was “sad and shocked.”
“I have only lived in the United States briefly,” he told The New York Times. “My understanding of American cultural references is still developing. In the future, I’ll be more aware about political correctness, cultural differences, and history.”
Representatives for FIT did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.