BOSTON — Citing the fashion industry’s role in causing eating disorders, Michael Kors said he’ll no longer hire models under age 16 and called on his peers to follow suit.
“We are talking about children and the pressures on them are horrendous,” he said.
The designer and “Project Runway” judge also urged consumers not to buy from companies “whose imagery turns you off. If you think what they’re showing is ridiculous, say no.”
Kors joined Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and model Natalia Vodianova, who spoke about her struggles with anorexia, for a panel discussion on the fashion industry’s response to weight and wellness held Monday night at Harvard Business School.
Eating disorders affect an estimated eight to 10 million people in the U.S. More sobering, women suffering from anorexia nervosa had a ninefold greater risk of death and 57-fold risk of suicide than their age cohort, said Dr. David B. Herzog, M.D., director of the Harris Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, which organized the forum to increase awareness of eating disorders. Three years ago, after the death of a Brazilian model from anorexia, the Council of Fashion Designers of America began looking at the ways they could help prevent eating disorders, rather than pretending the problem was rare. Last month, the CFDA held a forum discussing the sample size.
“Each and every one of us needs to realize we are all responsible for models’ health,” said Wintour, who called on designers to reverse the “tyranny of [sample] clothes that just barely fit a 13-year-old on the edge of puberty.”
She noted the past decade’s preference for extreme thinness has eroded models’ clout. Most work only when they have the uberslim physique of the very young, stop getting jobs when they fill out and hence don’t last long enough to develop public personalities, like the Nineties supermodels did. As a result, more magazine covers and lucrative beauty contracts have gone to singers and actresses, she observed.
Earlier, in a separate interview, Wintour said Vogue uses Photoshop to erase small imperfections, but does not use it to make girls look thinner than they are. She said Vogue editors have made a commitment to feature a wider variety of body types.
It certainly feels like there’s a bigger-is-better moment, from the rise of plus-size model Crystal Renn; Karl Lagerfeld’s plus-size model shoot for V magazine; Marie Claire’s plus-size fashion columnist, Ashley Falcon, and even the fall runways. Prada cast Doutzen Kroes and several other “curvier” models, while Marc Jacobs brought back a panoply of veterans for his Louis Vuitton show, including 46-year-old Elle Macpherson, swathed in heavy fabrics that played up natural padding.
Wintour’s appearance coincides with the newsstand arrival of Vogue’s ninth shape issue, which includes articles on plus-size model Kate Dillon, and model Kim Noorda’s struggle with anorexia.
But the other extreme is a real problem, and one which the industry elite have too long swept under the carpet, Wintour said. Kors said he thinks carefully about who will represent his company on catwalks and in ad campaigns, and meets with each model personally before casting them. He cited the example of a high-profile model he booked without an appointment, only to have her show up at a fitting at half her previous size and with bruises along her back from where her body spine pressed. He worked with her agent to admit her to a treatment program. Along with not booking models younger than 16, the designer won’t use any model who looks unhealthily thin and advocated 16- and 17-year-olds have adult chaperones backstage and at fittings.
In some ways, despite the significantly larger attendance of about 1,000 people, this year’s forum seemed less effective than one held two years ago, where designer Bradley Bayou spoke emotionally about his daughter’s struggle with anorexia and where audience members peppered panelists with questions and personal stories. This time, only three prescreened questions were allowed. Neither Wintour nor Kors would predict, over the long haul, how fashion will evolve or whether there would ultimately be a diversity of body types appearing on runways and in ad campaigns.
Vodianova pressed for better and more available information about the early signs of eating disorders in the modeling community. “By the time someone becomes extremely thin, so much damage has been done,” she said.
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
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@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion
“I’m Russian and I love to use all these little tricks that I got from my grandma or my mom. We didn’t have a lot of money for creams or anything like that so we would use a garden as a beauty treatment regime. We’d put cucumber in the fridge and do a cucumber mask,” says model @irinashayk on one of her beauty hacks. WWD asked celebs what their go-to self-care rituals are. See what Naomie Harris, Freida Pinto and more said on WWD.com. #wwdeye #wwdbeauty (📷: @zefashioninsider)
Exclusive: @viktorandrolf are teaming up with @Zalando on a collection made from leftover clothing. The lineup, which lands at the retailer February 1, includes 17 pieces adorned with sliced up and repurposed overstock from the retailer’s private label collection. Pictured here is a look from the collection –– see more on WWD.com. #wwdfashion #wwdnews
@duewestnyc is the newest bar joining the collection of intimate neighborhood-focused spaces in the West Village. The cocktail menu, which includes bitters and syrups made in-house, offers a “Build Your Own Old-Fashioned” – like the one pictured here – where guests can choose from a list of spirits and unexpected sugars and bitters. #wwdeye
Spotted at last night’s National Board of Review gala in NYC: Angelina Jolie. Jolie – along with Meryl Streep, @lupitanyongo and more – continued the all-black dress code from Sunday’s Golden Globes. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)