LONDON — The British Fashion Council is urging designers here to use “healthy” models for their shows, but has stopped short of laying down any rules regarding body mass index or weight.

Indeed, since the models’ weight debate broke last fall, the BFC has consistently said it would not interfere with the aesthetic of designers’ shows.

The BFC said in a statement Thursday that it recognized its responsibility to help promote a healthy body image. The organization has written to designers, model agencies and “image makers” requesting they use only healthy models for their collections. The BFC, which is responsible for London Fashion Week, also is recommending that only models age 16 or older are used.

“We believe that regulation is neither desirable nor enforceable,” the statement said. “What will make a difference is the commitment of the fashion industry to change attitudes through behavior and education.”

Designer Giles Deacon said nothing would change for his show this season. “I’m using the same casting principles I’ve always used: If the girl is right, we cast her. And we’ve always looked for a diverse mix of healthy girls. There are certain girls out there who are naturally thin, and there is nothing wrong with that. I think everyone has to be responsible in this — of course, I would never cast a girl who looked ill or poorly,” he told WWD.

Bella Freud, the designer behind the relaunch of the Biba label, said the BFC statement was a sensible one, and that she would continue to choose models based on whether or not she likes their look. She said common sense should be the guideline.

“It’s really easy to spot someone who’s anorexic; they look different. And I think it’s only normal for designers to be looking out for their models’ well-being,” she said.

The BFC statement, which was sent to designers as part of regular correspondence before the start of each London Fashion Week, said the council also is setting up a task force to examine all aspects of “this complex subject.”

The task force will consult with health and eating disorder experts, members of the fashion industry, the media and young women.

This story first appeared in the January 26, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Its specific remit will be to recommend a workable set of guidelines that can be embraced by the industry,” the statement said.

London Fashion Week kicks off the evening of Feb. 11 and runs through Feb. 16.

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