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In the modeling world, thin has always been in—but what constitutes “thin” has fluctuated. In the Eighties, a curve or two was not verboten, but that all changed when newcomer Kate Moss caused a sensation in 1993 with a high-profile Calvin Klein campaign. Moss became an instant star, and the industry’s preference shifted abruptly to a fondness for the skin-and-bones waif look—one dark-eyed version was dubbed “heroin chic”— triggering a mainstream media backlash.
This story first appeared in the November 1, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Although the waif trend eventually waned, the obsession with thin did not. In September 2006, models deemed too skinny were banned from Madrid Fashion Week; Milan started requiring girls to have a body mass index above 18.5. And the CFDA came up with its own Health Initiative, which addressed “the overwhelming concern about whether some models are unhealthily thin, and whether or not to impose restrictions in such cases.”
Karl Lagerfeld called efforts to legislate models’ weights “politically correct fascism.” “There are more fat people in the world than too skinny ones, and the fat ones have big, big problems,” he told WWD. Noted Stefano Gabbana, “Models have always been a certain body type—tall and thin. That’s why it’s called runway size.” However, some designers agreed with the efforts. “We all have a big responsibility with this disease,” Carolina Herrera told WWD, “because it can be found everywhere—it’s not only seen in fashion.”