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Old 7th December 2006   #1
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Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 441
Default The end of catwalk androgyny? (article)

I remain skeptical, of course, but a new article from the Wall Street Journal (and republished at the following link) suggests that fashion is finally making some tiny progress towards altering its inhuman - and lethal - starvation "standards".

What is important here is that the article identifies specific editors, councils, ministers, etc., who are at least considering implementing changes. This is particularly significant. As long as the discussion was about a vague faceless entity called "the fashion industry", no one had to take any ownership of the probelm. This article finally identifies some of the individuals and groups who do have power in (and over) the fashion industry. Hopefully, they will implement the changes that are being discussed.

If they dont, there will be nothing for it, and external regulation will be required.

It is specifically encouraging to hear these individuals admitting to "the role fashion plays in the spread of anorexia." I dont see how anyone - including plussize models - can deny that the fashion industry does play such a role, any more.

Here is the majority of the text:

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Milan considers setting weight guide for models

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

After 15 years of waif-like models, the world's fashion scene is tiptoeing toward a healthier look.

A global debate over whether models in fashion shows and glossy magazines are dangerously thin has been simmering over much of the past year -- in part because of the recent death of a Brazilian model from anorexia.

Tuesday, a movement to get emaciated models off the catwalk got a major boost when the Italian government and Italy's fashion-trade organization -- which organizes the Milan twice-yearly fashion shows -- announced they were drafting a charter aimed at doing away with images of dangerously thin women.

No concrete moves have been taken yet, and the charter would be unlikely to have legal value. Yet Milan is one of the world's most important fashion cities -- and home to important global brands such as Gucci, Versace and Prada -- so the move could put unparalleled pressure on fashion houses and other fashion venues, such as Paris, to alter the look of their gaunt models.

"Milan is one of the key players in fashion so it's a big deal," says David Milosevich, the head of David Milosevich Casting, which selects models for magazine photo shoots and runway shows.

It is still unclear how the restrictions would work, however, and how much support they would have among the fashion industry. The challenge will be getting the different players from the fashion industry on board.

Thin models are also a subject of debate for the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which helps organize New York's fashion week. Executive Director Steven Kolb says the CFDA is still considering the issue and "will have its own response at some point. If change comes, it's a collective response." The CFDA does not currently regulate how designers choose their models.

Fashion houses have so far been quiet on the subject. A spokesman for Prada declined to comment until more information about the manifesto was available. IT Holding, which owns brands such as Gianfranco Ferre and controls the licenses for Just Cavalli and Galliano, said it was considering backing the manifesto. "There is increasing pressure on the design houses," the spokesman said.

In the hey-day of the flashy, supermodel era of the late 1980s and 1990s -- when brands like Armani and Versace made waves through Madison Avenue and Hollywood alike -- supermodels such as Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer were slim but curvy. But suddenly in the early 1990s, the thinner look prevailed.

Supermodel Kate Moss helped kick off the trend with a series of famous Calvin Klein ads in the early 1990s. Ms. Moss's androgynous look captured the grunge scene of the early 1990s, a reversal from the go-go days of the 1980s.

Quickly after, Italian fashion houses such as Prada and Gucci became the most aggressive in pushing the ultra-thin image in fashion capitals such as New York, Paris and Milan.

A backlash began to spread to the industry this past fall. Organizers of Madrid fashion week, a local event that doesn't attract much attention abroad, made headlines by barring models under a certain weight, after doctors' and women's groups protested against the emaciated look. Then, last month, the debate flared again after Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston died of complications from anorexia.

Cosmopolitan magazine in the U.S. has already picked up on the changing thinking. Kate White, editor-in-chief, recently created a policy against running illustrations of women who are too thin. "We were looking at some illustrations for the magazine and I thought, 'We just have to put more meat on their bones,'" said Ms. White, who rejected the drawings and ordered up new ones.

"In photographs, we make a real effort to use models who are not extraordinarily thin, but it's tricky because fashion models tend to be thin," she said.

Starting with the February issue, Cosmopolitan illustrations of women now have to feature women who look like they wear a size 6 or 8, she adds.

Similarly, designer Alice Roi designs her samples in sizes 4 and 6 and is eager to have the issue of weight addressed more openly..."It's not a hidden tragedy in the fashion world anymore," Ms. Roi says.

In Italy, the move against too-thin models is being spearheaded by Giovanna Melandri, Italy's minister for youth policies, and Mario Boselli, the head of the National Chamber for Italian Fashion, an industry group. After the two met for an hour in Rome Tuesday, they decided to draft a plan to combat what they say is the role fashion plays in the spread of anorexia.

They plan to issue a "national manifesto" by January, in time to be applied to the women's ready-to-wear fashion shows in February, Mr. Boselli said. The manifesto will also address fashion beyond the catwalk, including advertising...

Mr. Boselli says he also wants to stop super-thin models from being used in advertising, and has met with an Italian publishers association. The Italian manifesto will target other fashion industry players in addition to the brands, such as modeling agencies and photographers. Mr. Boselli says he's also spoken to the head of the French fashion association about the topic.

Though fashion houses can't be legally forced to follow the charter, Mr. Boselli says that punishments could be meted out to those who refuse to adhere to its guidelines. Among the sanctions could be being banned from the official fashion show calendar of the Milan catwalks -- a move that could complicate schedules around the already busy week.

If it gathers momentum, it could change the ways fashion houses design the clothes and looks that define their image world-wide.

Some experts say it would actually bring looks more in line with what women associate with real, glamorous lifestyles...

There is no standard size yet for being healthy. Madrid's guideline, based on a calculation using weight and height, was that models had to have a body mass index of 18 or higher, meaning that a 5'11" model would have to weigh in at 130 pounds to just barely make the cut. The World Health Organization considers anyone with a body mass index below 18.5 to be underweight. Milan has not yet chosen its criteria...
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