Diane von Furstenberg cracks down on rules for teen models in new CFDA guidelines – but there's STILL no minimum BMI at New York Fashion Week
Guidelines did not ban models with eating disorders from the runway entirely
New guidelines: Diane von Furstenberg is cracking down on use of underage models in the fashion industry
The Council of Fashion Designers of America has issued strict new guidelines that will prevent the use of models under the age of 16 at New York Fashion Week.
The U.S. industry body, of which Diane von Furstenberg is President, is insisting that its members demand ID for all models ahead of catwalk shows.
But while other fashion capitals have tackled models' low weights by insisting on a minimum BMI (body mass index), the CFDA continued to hold off from issuing a clear directive on the subject.
Though it pledged to educate the industry about the warning signs of eating disorders, and encourage models who may have an eating disorder to seek professional
help, there was nothing that might prevent a designer
from putting a very thin model on the catwalk, who, healthy or not, may
suggest an unhealthy physical ideal to impressionable young girls.
It is at odds with other fashion capitals, like Madrid, which in 2007 recommended that designers do not use models with a BMI of under 18. Milan attempted a similar ruling in 2006, but a super-slender model at the Gianfranco Ferre show last September indicates that this is not being particularly well-enforced.
But despite pressure, particularly after the death of Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos in 2006, the U.S. body has refused to issue a similar rule.
Instead, it offers suggestions to designers that show at New York Fashion Week on how to handle a situation should they believe a model is suffering from an eating disorder, and to provide healthy meals and snacks backstage.
Explaining the CFDA's decision, Ms von Furstenberg, with the organisation's chief executive Steven Kolb, said in a statement: 'Designers share a responsibility to protect women, and very young girls in particular, within the business, sending the message that beauty is health.
'While some models are naturally tall and thin and their appearance is a result of many factors, including genetics, youth, nutritional food, and exercise, other models have or develop eating disorders.
'Although we cannot fully assume responsibility for an issue that is as complex as eating disorders and that occurs in many walks of life, the fashion industry can begin a campaign of awareness and create an atmosphere that supports the well-being of these young women.'
It comes as little surprise that Ms von Furstenberg has focused on the age issue rather than the weight one.
She found herself in hot water after her show at New York Fashion Week in February 2011 after it emerged that the then 15-year-old Hailey Clauson had walked in her show, despite being underage.
In a letter to CFDA members, she wrote: 'It is to my horror that I discovered last Friday that in spite of
me repeating that to my production and casting people, one girl slipped
through the cracks. One girl who will be 16 in March walked my show
'Designers share a responsibility to protect women, and very young girls in particular… sending the message that beauty is health'
'I was horrified and terribly embarrassed. From now on I will instruct
my casting people to demand IDs. I encourage you to do the same.
'Please accept my apology. I am trying to be a good leader and set an example … so please please accept my apology.'
The CFDA first launched its Health Initiative at the height of an international debate about underweight models in 2007.
The body's guidelines are merely recommendations, however, not an outright ban.
CFDA spokesman Karen Peterson told MailOnline: 'The CFDA cannot police what designers do, only encourage them to follow
the guidelines. There are labour laws governing the work of minors
though and we urge everyone involved in the industry to consult their
legal team to make sure they are in compliance.'
A similar situation emerged last New York Fashion Week in September when budding teenage supermodel Valerija Sestic angered several fashion labels after
lying about her age in order to appear in top
Agents representing Valerija Sestic told at least a dozen designers
including Tory Burch, Rodarte and Oscar de la Renta, that she was 16, when in fact, she did not turn 16 until October 21.
THE CFDA'S NEW HEALTH INITIATIVE GUIDELINES
Educate the industry to identify the early warning signs in an individual at risk of developing an eating disorder.Encourage models who may have an eating disorder to seek professional
help in order to continue modeling. And models who are receiving
professional help for an eating disorder should not continue modeling
without that professional’s approval.Develop workshops for the industry (including models and their
families) on the nature of eating disorders, how they arise, how we
identify and treat them, and complications if they are untreated.Support the well-being of younger individuals by not hiring models
under the age of sixteen for runway shows; not allowing models under the
age of eighteen to work past midnight at fittings or shoots; checking
IDs to ensure that models are the appropriate age; providing regular
breaks and rest. Consult the applicable labor laws found at
www.labor.state.ny.us when working with models under sixteen.Supply healthy meals, snacks, and water backstage and at shoots and provide nutrition and fitness education.Promote a healthy backstage environment by raising the awareness of
the impact of smoking and tobacco-related disease among women, ensuring a
smoke-free environment, and address underage drinking by prohibiting