MODEL BEHAVIOR: Balenciaga has come under fire again from a model complaining about its casting conditions, only weeks after parent company Kering and rival luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton launched a joint charter to ensure the well-being of models.
Louise Parker, a model and photographer, posted an image on Instagram of herself giving the finger after failing to make the cut for Balenciaga’s spring show, held in Paris on Sunday, along with a profanity-laced caption.
“It feels great to take a 12 hour trip for a client, be fitted after waiting for hours, agree to have your hair cut for their show, only to be cancelled the following day,” she wrote. “Now that you’re finally paying attention to ‘model’s rights’ (I also got that doctor’s note to confirm a healthy BMI) maybe I’d feel better if I met with your so-called therapist that’s on call 24/7.”
Balenciaga said it paid for Parker to fly to Paris for a go and see and tried several looks on her at a fitting, but did not confirm her for the show. She was asked to cut her hair in a short, boyish style but did not agree to the length, so the hairdresser for the show cut her hair to a longer style she agreed on.
The brand said Parker was paid the same amount as if she had walked in the show.
“Balenciaga is sincerely sorry for the disappointment of Louise Parker for not being confirmed for the women’s spring 2018 show in Paris,” the brand said in a statement.
“The house regrets that there seemed to have been a misunderstanding between Louise Parker and her agent about the fact that flying her for a ‘go and see’ fitting does not mean she would be confirmed. A ‘go and see’ or fitting never means that the model is confirmed for a show,” it added.
The model’s post generated more than 1,700 likes and a stream of comments. James Scully — the casting director who blew the whistle on brands including Balenciaga in March for allegedly abusing models, and who subsequently advised Kering and LVMH on their charter — commended Parker for publicizing her experience.
“Thank you Louise for bringing this to light and reminding all models and women you have a voice, you are people with feelings, not disposable and won’t put up with this behavior any longer. Keep speaking out till it stops #powerinnumbers,” Scully wrote.
Other commenters argued that models are routinely optioned for shows but released beforehand, and this could not be considered abusive treatment.
According to the charter unveiled in early September, models must present a recent medical certificate proving their overall health. Brands also have to put a dedicated psychologist or therapist at their disposal during their working time.
In a comment, the Model Alliance, an organization which promotes fair treatment, equal opportunity, and sustainable practices in the fashion industry, linked to a statement on its Instagram page.
“It is important to consult with the models when drafting a policy that aims to improve their working lives. Evidently, greater clarity is needed regarding expectations for bookings. For example, it would be reasonable for a model to be confirmed for a job in writing before she is required to change her appearance,” it said.
François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of Kering, told WWD at the time the charter was unveiled that the group consulted casting directors, brand representatives, models and Synam, France’s union of model agencies, on the drafting of the document.
“Each had a different vision of things and it was interesting for everyone to reconcile the different points of view to realize there were sometimes misunderstandings and it was time to correct them,” he said.
“Things won’t be perfect straight away, so we will continue to work on improving the implementation of these measures and if some measures have to be improved, they will be,” Pinault added.