By  on January 8, 2007

NEW YORK — The Council of Fashion Designers of America is moving ahead in putting together its strategy on the global debate on weight.

In a meeting Friday, the CFDA assembled a committee to work on a health initiative with guidelines to address the issue. The committee includes nutritionist Joy Bauer, psychiatrist Dr. Susan Ice, trainer David Kirsch and Nian Fish, creative director at KCD.

Diane von Furstenberg represented the CFDA membership at the meeting, which was also attended by Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and Louis Chaban, an agent at modeling agency DNA.

Since organizers of Madrid Fashion Week said in September they were going to ban too-skinny models, a heated debate has been unleashed on beauty standards and if and how the fashion industry can contribute to the fight against eating disorders. The CFDA development is a major step by the American industry toward sculpting its game plan, which will reflect views of the entire community. The committee's mandate is to determine what the industry can do to promote the health of models.

"The fashion industry is acknowledging this weight debate as a serious issue," von Furstenberg, president of the CFDA, said Friday. "Together with medical professionals, we are committed to promoting good health and helping these young girls."

Von Furstenberg also will send a letter to designers, who stage runway shows during fashion week and will be conducting castings in the next few weeks, to inform them that the industry is taking a position on the matter.

"The CFDA has formed a committee and outlined suggested guidelines that will be announced at a breakfast during fashion week, to be followed by a bigger seminar later this year," said von Furstenberg.

The new committee will participate in the press conference on Feb. 5. At that meeting, the CFDA will announce some of the initiatives it will take to promote the health of young models. The invitation-only event is expected to attract an audience of a wide range of industry executives, including designers, modeling agencies and executives.

"I think it's a very positive" move, said Steven Kolb, executive director of the CFDA. "We're in a good place. It can be very impactful, and we are conscious about these guidelines being recommendations, but backing them up with the panel discussion and some ongoing support."Last month, Italy's Chamber of Fashion created a "healthy models" manifesto that includes issuing licenses to fashion models. The license would take into consideration ethnic differences and lay down the minimum age for modeling at 16. Mario Boselli, president of the Camera della Moda, said during the signing of the manifesto in Rome last month that he hoped to regulate the shows internationally. He is scheduled to meet with von Furstenberg; Didier Grumbach, the president of France's Chambre Syndicale, and Hilary Riva, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, in Paris on Jan. 24.

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