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The 2008 London spring Fashion Week: some comments
Working for a 100-strong union, model spies supposedly assessed catwalk bullying during London Fashion Week, but this was likely a useless endeavor since Eastern European and other models from poor backgrounds wouldn’t answer truthfully.
More interesting are excerpts from a report by Liz Jones before London Fashion Week, with the asinine title, “Have model agencies finally dumped skinny models?” Even without looking at the models, the answer is easily guessed as no. And, the agencies meet demand, whereas the title makes it sound like the model agencies are to blame for thin models.
Some excerpts follow, with my comments in italics.
From Liz Jones’ introduction:
London Fashion Week is just days away and I am at Premier Model Management in Covent Garden to find out whether the fashion industry has taken on board any of the recommendations from last year's Model Health Inquiry.
In September 2007 a panel set up in the wake of the death from anorexia of two Brazilian models and chaired by Baroness Kingsmill hauled the fashion industry over the coals, laying blame, in particular, at the doors of the agents.
Comment: The modeling agencies are particularly to blame? Their job is to supply demand, and the demand comes from fashion houses/designers. The panel was protecting the people responsible by shifting the blame on people who are not in a position to complain about unfair accusation. Complaining modeling agencies will end up with a roster of jobless models.
As often happens, they give away the culprits, like Liz Jones does below:
Before London Fashion Week (LFW) has even kicked off, Harold Tillman, who has taken time out from his day job running Jaeger to act as chairman of the British Fashion Council (succeeding M&S's Stuart Rose), weighed into the debate, calling for Naomi Campbell to get involved as a mentor for young girls because of her healthy physique.
He also stated proudly that Jaeger 'only uses size 12 models' in its campaigns.
'He is talking nonsense,' says Carole White, a former Lucie Clayton model who founded Premier 26 years ago. 'I represented Naomi for 17 years, and she was, and is, a size 8.'
As for Jaeger, whose catwalk show kicks off LFW on Sunday, supposedly using only bigger, more realistic-looking girls, White gives a snort. 'Jaeger never uses size 12 girls,' she says. 'The model in the latest campaign is a size 8.' Here we have the crux of the problem. The ready-to-wear fashion shows (which started yesterday in New York, and after London will alight in Milan and Paris) have been put into the spotlight by the 'size zero debate'.
Comment: Not needed; Carole white does the job.
Liz Jones adds:
And while lots of big names have been jumping on the bandwagon, calling for change, it seems very little has changed.
At the recent Armani Privé show during Paris couture week, I was shocked by how thin the models were — thinner than ever, it seemed.
Liz Jones then wonders:
Has the industry really taken a long, hard look at itself and decided to act more responsibly?
Comment: Honey, what did your observations suggest?
Liz Jones then mentions Carole White’s reply:
'In London, I think it has,' says White.
'If you have a very thin girl, you're not going to put her in the show because the designer knows he or she is going to get bad press if they do.
'Our girls are certainly appreciating the introduction of a special centre at the shows where they can go to seek help in confidence, and I think a model union is also a good idea.'
Comment: The ones from poor backgrounds know better than to “seek help in confidence.” Only the naïve will be fooled that a union will help models anytime soon.
Liz Jones quoting Carol White:
But while White believes London is improving, slowly, it really does seem nothing has changed in New York, Milan and Paris.
'In Paris — oh my God! They're so hardcore about how skinny they want the girls to be — they want 33in hips and a 22in waist. I know of two 13-year-olds who were in shows in Milan, big shows, last year.'
White is adamant that British agencies are the most responsible in the world, and points out that the majority of the females on her books are not size 8 (she won't take on anyone smaller than that) but are size 12 girls who make millions from working constantly doing catalogue work and commercials.
Comment: So it seems that nothing has changed in Milan even though the Italian government banned ultra-skinny models in late 2006, but the fashion industry in London has improved on its own? Makes so much sense! Here are some pictures from the 2008 London spring Fashion Week.
Many of the high-fashion models seen at the 2008 London spring Fashion Week don’t seem different from those used elsewhere. The one on the right isn’t skinny, but note the masculine looks.
Jones then asks White, “Whose fault is it that we have just one, ridiculous ideal of beauty?” White replies:
I think it's the show producers, the all-powerful stylists who determine what is cool. The likes of Russell Marsh, who always does Prada and Miu Miu, Katie Grand and Edward Enninful of American Vogue.
Once a girl is chosen by one of these powerful people, you know she will be wanted for every show, and land an ad campaign at the end of it.
Comment: Show producers, stylists? Is white this naïve or is she protecting the people responsible? Who hires the show producers and stylists? Do the show producers and stylists hire designers and tell them, “design for these models, the ones we like”?
Jones then asks, “But why do the models have to be so young?” White replies:
In the 1990s, the photographers became all powerful, and they wanted a very fresh, natural look, with minimal make-up, which meant you had to use a girl with 16-year-old skin,' she explains.
Comment: Is white stupid or protecting the criminals? Here is a 26-year-old woman (no airbrushing). Pretty horrible skin she has, doesn’t she? There is no shortage of people in their early- to mid-twenties with excellent skin. Photographers are chiefly concerned with printwork, but skin imperfections in photos can be digitally edited, and the fashion industry does this. On the catwalk/runway, people will be observing the models from a distance, and the less youthful skin of a 22-year-old would hardly be discernible from that of a 16-year-old. The fashion models’ pictures shown above are full size images obtained from elle.com, and if they were printed in a magazine, the print size would be a few inches in length, again, not large enough to show the difference in skin quality between 16-year-olds and those in their early twenties. The explanation for young models is simple...homosexual designers wanting the girls to resemble boys in their early adolescence.
White commenting on the “biggest scandal” in the fashion world:
White believes the biggest scandal in fashion is that agencies aren't encouraged to take on more girls from ethnic minorities; only five out of the 200 girls on her books are black.
'A black girl has to be perfect to get work,' she says. 'The bookers are told: "Don't send any ethnic girls." I showed a picture of a new black girl to an agent in Milan, and he actually recoiled. He said: "We don't have black girls in Milan. It's impossible."
'Black models never make money. Even Naomi Campbell didn't make money like the white girls did; she was always offered less.'
Comment: This is the biggest scandal? And what about the zero Chinese and zero Hindus among the models? High-fashion is predominantly a Western phenomenon, and the expensive merchandize has predominantly white clients. So the majority of fashion models are going to be white. White models also come with diverse hair colors, diverse eye colors, finer skin and thereby minimal/no yellow skin tone, and finer facial features, all of utility in modeling. No scandal here. The scandal occurred last year when ingrate Naomi Campbell, who made millions as a model, complained about not being featured on the cover of Vogue magazine anymore even though she was approaching middle age and had a record of drug abuse and criminal behavior.
Closing comments by White:
And while White thinks many of the new measures recommended by the Model Health Inquiry are too impractical (she thinks medical certificates will never work because of the international nature of the business), she does think we will, one day, see a catwalk that is far more inclusive.
'Model Lara Stone has enormous breasts and she has cracked all the big shows, so while she is an exception, at least it means we're trying. I don't believe the straight-up-and-down girl is going to go, ever, but the painfully thin girl will go.'
Comment: The “impractical” comments were made knowing they would not be implemented, and they are “impractical” because they will work if implemented. One look at Lara Stone’s facial features, and it is clear why “enormous breasts” can be sidelined in her case. The industry is not voluntarily changing, and it cannot protect itself from most people eventually realizing why high-fashion models look the way they do.