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Old 28th February 2011   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: October 2010
Posts: 133
Default Re: London Fashion Week promoting anorexia (article)

Liz Jones's article is indeed a must-read. It takes the scales from the eyes of anyone who has been duped into believing that any meaningful change is happening in fashion.

I was struck by many things in the article, right from the opening:

Originally Posted by Meredith
At a London Fashion Week where one designer, Maria Grachvogel, was forced to take in the seams on her samples because she couldn’t find any models who were a size ten...

I knew I'd heard of that specific situation. It's described in detail in this Guardian article:

This is a textbook example of the problem that many have identified -- that designers and agencies keep blaming one another, passing the buck back and forth, so that no one is left accountable.

Here's the situation that the article describes:

One designer at London fashion week has been forced to shrink her samples to a size eight because larger models are in such short supply. Who is to blame for this change in the industry?

Jess Cartner-Morley
Friday 18 February 2011

This season, designer Maria Grachvogel has given in to fashion industry reality, and had the catwalk samples made in a size eight rather than the size 10 she has commissioned up until now – because it has become too difficult to find experienced catwalk models large enough to wear a size 10 dress on the catwalk.

"I have succumbed," was how she put it to me. "What can I do? I'd much rather make a size 10, but the clothes have to fit the models who are going to wear them." For the past three years, Grachvogel has been restricted to hiring the biggest models on agency books – "send me your curviest girls" has been her mantra – in order to fill out her size 10 samples. This season, she admitted defeat.

"Having real women try on the clothes and see how they work . . . is so helpful to me, as a designer."

There is no one in the fashion industry who would deny that models, and the sample sizes they wear on the catwalk, have got significantly slimmer in the past five years. Last week, supermodel Erin O'Connor admitted: "I'm a fashion model and I don't fit into the sample sizes. I haven't for some time. At one show I couldn't get into the trousers. The designer said, 'What happened to you?' I replied, 'Why don't you make your trousers bigger?"

The chicken-or-egg question of who is ultimately to blame is a sticky one. Grachvogel's experience is that model agencies no longer have size 10 models on their books, but others blame designers. Two years ago British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman sent a strongly worded letter to many of the world's top fashion houses, asking them to stop producing "minuscule" press samples, which force her magazine to hire the skinniest of models in order to wear them.

The size zero debate is emotively linked to several high-profile deaths among anorexic models.

The problem, as Grachvogel points out, is that "this is an unachievable body shape for most women. It is absurd and frustrating that women are so obsessed with trying to conform to a body shape which is simply impossible for most of us."

"What I love doing as a designer is making clothes that make real women, women of different heights and shapes and sizes, look beautiful and feel amazing. It's frustrating that I can't put that on the catwalk."

But is the designer really the blameless victim here? Hardly. Rather, it seems as if she's just saying the right things to cover for the fact that she's diminishing the size of her already too-skinny samples, and thus contributing to the problem as much as anyone else is.

1. If she supposedly can't find models in a U.K. size 10 (which I don't believe for a minute), then why is she going smaller? Why not go larger? Why not hire plus-size models? That would prove that she really is concerned about body image and isn't just trying to pass the buck and avoid bad press. There is no reason for her to default to even-more-anorexic-looking models unless she's just caving in and conforming to what other designers are doing.

2. If (and this is a big "if") we accept her contention that the designers have to conform their samples to the size of the models that are available, then the solution is obvious: the agencies should all be compelled, by government regulation, to only represent fuller-figured models. By the premise of the article, that would force designers to finally make their samples in a healthy size.

And certainly, as we recently learned, agencies are resorting to underhanded and unethical behind-the-scenes ploys to keep down the sizes of the models.

But on the other hand, if a designer insists on a bigger model, then that's who gets booked. When Mark Fast wanted faux-plus models, he got them. And when a designer wants androgynous corpses, he or she gets those.

So the designers are still the ones who are most criminally at fault for the promotion of anorexia. They create the samples; they book the models. But the agencies clearly are severely culpable as well.

The whole fashion industry is complicit, and by blaming each other, they deflect blame from themselves and avoid taking responsibility. That's why the entire industry needs to be forced to reform from above, by government edict, because it clearly will never reform itself.
Shelley is offline   Reply With Quote