As New York’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week approaches, the spotlight turns to the models. In an effort to cope with the weight and age controversies surrounding the modeling industry, Diane Von Furstenberg, the CFDA president, is urging designers to confirm their models’ ages before allowing them to walk in their shows. The legal working age in the United States is 16, yet even Furstenberg had to issue a public apology last year after unknowingly allowing a 15-year-oldHailey Clauson to walk her runway.
WWD quotes the letter that Furstenberg and CFDA chief executive officer Steven Kolb issued to designers, which says, “The casting agents for the Diane Von Furstenberg show will be doing this and we encourage others to do the same.” It is clear that the fashion and, more specifically, the modeling world, cannot afford any more damaging scandals. In a conversation with Lauren Hutton for the newest issue of Interview, Michael Kors confides that models cannot be relied on to tell the truth about their age:
I said two years ago, “No models under 16,” Well, of course, right after I said that, we started seeing all of these girls from Eastern Europe, and every girl who’d walk in, you’d say, “Hi. What’s your name?” And she’d be like, “I’m Svetlana.” I’m like, “Svetlana, where are you from?” “Ukraine.” “Svetlana, how old are you?” “16.” Next girl walks in – she’s from Eastern Europe and 16. Next one? Eastern Europe and 16. I was like, “Was there a bus?” But I still think it’s a tricky thing because no matter how beautiful you might be at 15 or 16, the simple truth is that you haven’t lived enough to really know how to project anything in a photograph. It’s like a kind of blank beauty.
Oh MK, how we love you. Glad to hear that designers are aware of the pressure put on young models to get their foot in the door. It might be a fast-paced business, but when I think back to my 14-year-old self, clad in Abercrombie & Fitch and Urban Outfitters, it’s easy to recognize the value in maturing through your awkward years. A beautiful 15-year-old will still still be stunning at 16 or 17, but might have a little more to offer in terms of life experience and know-how. I applaud the fashion industry for taking this step and I hope we see the results next week.
What are your thoughts on the age crack-down?