They are under-represented on the catwalk - so they are holding their own glamorous contest. Emily Dugan reports
From triumph in the White House to Olympic and Formula One garlands, via just about every stage and screen, mixed-race people have made massive leaps forward in the past decade: everywhere, it seems, except in British fashion.
Though there is no shortage of glamorous mixed-race celebrities in public life - think Lewis Hamilton, his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, or Thandie Newton - it's quite a different story on the UK's catwalks. Britain's first modelling contest exclusively for mixed-race entrants will take place later this month amid accusations that the fashion industry is overlooking them because they are too hard to pigeonhole.
The competition, set up by Mix-d, a social enterprise aimed at tackling racism, will allow only entrants who have parents of different racial backgrounds. Bradley Lincoln, the charity's founder and a judge in the Mix-d: Face 2010 final on 30 October, said: "I noticed that there was a problem in the fashion industry for mixed- race models who weren't seen as black enough to be black and not white enough to be white. I don't think it's conscious; [the industry] will pick what they like and think is current and mixed- race models often aren't what they think of."
Demographics suggest that fairly soon they will have little choice but to do so. Mixed-race people are the fastest-growing segment of the UK population. Although just under a million Britons are of mixed race, government projections suggest that by 2020 they will overtake British Asians to become the largest ethnic minority group in the UK, reaching about 1.24 million. One in four inner London children now have parents of different races - and the numbers are rising.
Yet, thus far, models such as Noemie Lenoir - the former face of Marks & Spencer, whose mother is black and from the island of Reunion and whose French father is white - are still in the minority.
This is doubly ironic given that, according to the latest research, mixed-race faces are considered the most attractive. A survey earlier this year by Cardiff University found that people whose parents are different races are considered the most naturally beautiful. The study took 1,205 black, white and mixed-race faces from Facebook groups and had them rated by participants on a scale of one to 10. …