French luxury titans LVMH and Kering issued a joint statement on Wednesday, announcing their intention to curb use of ultra-thin -- typically called size 0 -- models on runways and in ad campaigns, writes Bloomberg.
The Paris-based companies said they’d implement stricter guidelines for the treatment of models, including increasing minimum garment sizes for fashion shows as well as requiring them to have medical certificates attesting to their good health. Models below the age of 16 will be banned from showing grown-up fashions, while those ages 16 to 18 will need to be chaperoned, the companies said in a joint statement Wednesday.
“Certain subjects rise above any competition,” Antoine Arnault, chief executive officer of LVMH-owned shoemaker Berluti and eldest son of group chairman Bernard Arnault, said in an interview. “There have been problems in all houses with the way fashion models work, with their well-being and even their psychological safety. A lot of the models are very young, and they don’t have the necessary experience to cope with certain situations. They will be looked after.”
The joint strategy between the two conglomerates -- a decision that impacts luxury brands including LVMH's Louis Vuitton, Dior, Celine, Givenchy and more and Kering's Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Bottega Veneta and more- reflects growing concern over teenage eating disorders.
I cannot believe this is happening, eight years after Ralph Lauren fired Filippa Hamilton for being too fat -- as a size 4 -- and the downsizing of models worldwide became a bitter fight in fashion. When I said yesterday on FB that I would be returning to this debate in my writing, I had no idea this move by two corporate giants in fashion was about to be announced.
The world of social media is so much more influential now, than eight years ago. When model Ulrikke Hoyer made waves in May 2017, after arriving in Kyoto to be told that she was "too bloated" and "too big" to wear the clothes and should only drink water for 24 hrs., Ulrikke went public and told her followers about the event, shared on Models.com.
Note that Vuitton didn't have the class to tell Ulrikke directly that they had cancelled her show walk, contacting instead her agent in France. Part of it read, "[Ulrikke] came yesterday in Tokyo to do her final fitting, and she doesn't fit the exact same dress anymore. She has a belly, her face is more puffy [sic] and the back of her dress is open and you can see it is tight."
For her part, Ulrikke's agent had notified Louis Vuitton that her hip measurement was 92cm, a slight increase and she was confirmed for Tokyo at that measurement.
Being cancelled from a show is nothing new, something Høyer herself admits, and even being told you’re ‘too big’ seems to be something the models are hardened to hear, after all it is a job based on appearances and your ability to fit the samples. That’s where it gets tricky, as the model’s well-being is often dangerously removed from the equation. But Høyer also knows the extreme side of this mentality, “Many of the girls don’t have their periods, and/or changes the color of their skin because of bad and incorrect nutrition and almost everyone have a completely distorted relationship with food.
I've been organizing all my prior writing on this subject when April Leigh just pinged me with the news. The scope of this decision -- influenced by the many prominent women working in both companies, including the spouses -- should be huge.
Note that this notice is not to suggest that many American women, especially, will not remain unhappy with fashion models. America is now the second most overweight country in the world, based on the latest research.
A Return To Supreme Supers Standards?
All this means is a return to model sizes more like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and company -- all very healthy women then and now. As I tried to explain last week after being accused on FB of promoting anorexia, the reason for the downsizing are many: extensive photoshop employed largely by men; a desire to de-sexualize the supers in the 90s; a desire to dehumanize the supers who were lady bosses -- hence, cut them down to size; the strong growth of gender neutrality and androgyny in the fashion industry (remember that saying most women have vaginas is a reason to not be allowed to speak on college campuses today -- you are fired); the reasons are many. I have called this deliberate trend "fashion monasticism".
But this is great news, and I will discuss it more fully in new posts. Progress had been made, as I wrote last week. Laws have been enacted in many European countries. But just as the Conde Nast decision not to use models under age 16 in magazine had major impact, this new decision impacting the world's largest luxury brands except for Chanel, Prada, and Ralph Lauren is good news. It will be interesting to see how Lagerfeld responds, given that he has been a champion of size 0s. I would know, having dealt with his attorney for my writing. ~ Anne