LIZ JONES FASHION THERAPY: The human coathanger is proof fashion"s still hooked on skeletal chic


LIZ JONES FASHION THERAPYThe human coathanger… or proof fashion's still hooked on skeletal chic

At last! Designers have always desired models who look like adolescent boys so they can spend time partying instead of learning how to construct patterns, darts, seams and internal corsetry.

Now, Romanian-born model Ioana Spangenberg and her 20in waist means they’ll have their ultimate clothes horse.

While Ioana has been called a ‘human hourglass’, this isn’t strictly true. In the 1900s, my granny had an 18in waist, but this was mostly achieved by corsets. She still had hips, buttocks and breasts. Ioana is a human coathanger. Not even a wooden one, just one made of wire.

'Human hourglass': With her her 20in waist, Romanian model Ioana Spangenberg is not a healthy role model for young girls

'Human hourglass': With her her 20in waist, Romanian model Ioana Spangenberg is not a healthy role model for young girls

'Human hourglass': With her her 20in waist, Romanian model Ioana Spangenberg is not a healthy role model for young girls

I don’t have to imagine what Ioana looks like naked. I know. Exactly the way I looked in my early 20s when I was hospitalised for being too thin.

Ioana looks as if she eats hardly anything, and people who don’t eat enough all begin to look the same.

I had those Belsen thighs, that glassy stare, that mouth like a skull, and spouted deluded rubbish about how much I ate to anyone who would listen. I told my endocrinologist I was eating three meals a day and that, no, I didn’t over-exercise, and, yes, I snacked constantly. I didn’t mention I’d lined my baggy raincoat with large bottles of water to cheat the scales.

Just as I never believe celebrities who tell me they eat ‘like, so much!’, I don’t believe Ioana when she claims to eat three big meals a day and snack on chocolate and crisps.

At the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) conference last month, Vogue cover star Karolina Kurkova spoke movingly of designers telling her she wasn’t thin enough, while model Elettra Wiedemann told how, in Milan, she was instructed to have a breast reduction and nose job.

At the conference, the CFDA announced guidelines for New York Fashion Week, which began a few days ago. These included banning models aged under 16 and educating the industry to recognise the early signs of eating disorders.

Weren’t they supposed to have done this years ago It’s the same old same old, especially given that not one model chosen to model for Victoria Beckham is above a size eight.

'Too fat': Karolina Kurkova, left, and Elettra Wiedemann were told they would have to lose weight to make it as models

'Too fat': Karolina Kurkova, left, and Elettra Wiedemann were told they would have to lose weight to make it as models

'Too fat': Karolina Kurkova, left, and Elettra Wiedemann were told they would have to lose weight to make it as models

Amid these latest fashion faux pas comes the news that the winner of Holland’s Next Top Model is suing her agency, Elite, for not handing over the prize money because they say she is ‘too fat’.

Oh, and Karl Lagerfeld put his python-clad foot in it yet again by pronouncing Adele — a stunning, intelligent, gifted goddess — to be ‘a little fat’.

Never mind sacking John Galliano for being racist, why have there been no calls for the head of Karl Lagerfeld, who likes to regularly spit on his customers, ie women

On Friday, London Fashion Week will once again open its doors, and London Mayor Boris Johnson, Samantha Cameron et al will remind us how important the fashion industry is in terms of revenue, morale and jobs. We should support it. It is important, yes, but mostly in the way it infects our lives.

It needs to support us for a change.

Will London Fashion Week be any different from last year After all, the Model Health Inquiries and hand-wringing by Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone, what has actually changed

Caroline Rush, the British Fashion Council’s chief executive, told me: ‘We take model health seriously. No under-16s on the catwalk, healthy backstage environments and bi-annual meetings of the Model Programme Committee, which includes bookers, casting directors and stylists.’

None of these measures prevented cadaverous model Chloe Memisevic walking for Erdem, Roksanda Ilincic and Twenty8Twelve in front of a shocked Samantha Cameron last year.

Skeletal chic: Samantha Cameron looked shocked by how skinny the models were in the Erdem show at last year's London Fashion Week

Skeletal chic: Samantha Cameron looked shocked by how skinny the models were in the Erdem show at last year's London Fashion Week

Our glossy magazines, fearful of upsetting the all-powerful advertisers, seem entirely divorced from reality.

The only commendable advance is in Cosmopolitan’s April issue, which will feature the winner of a competition held by plus-size chain Evans and the agency Models 1 to find a new curvy star. And, um, that’s about it.

Even magazines aimed squarely at older women are still too chicken to use anyone who has eaten a square meal and was born before 1990.

Take Easy Living. Deborah Joseph, the new editor, knows her magazine is aimed at older women because in her first editor’s letter she writes: ‘I have left no stone unturned in our revamp to create a magazine for 30-plus women that inspires and helps you in every area of your life . . .’

I leaf through her debut issue. Hmmm. Though the cover star is 49-year-old Marcia Cross, the models inside seem awfully flawless, young and skinny. I email her:

‘Dear Deborah, Congratulations on your new job. I wonder if you will break the tradition of the previous editor and use models who, like your readers, are over 30.

Setting a bad example: Vogue's latest cover features tiny-waisted American model Arizona Muse

Setting a bad example: Vogue's latest cover features tiny-waisted American model Arizona Muse

‘In your debut issue, you use Brazilian model Vanessa Cruz. She has the vital statistics 32, 22, 33 — pretty damn small. Aged 20, she’s pretty damn young, too! Rachel Alexander, used over 10 pages, is 24.

‘Your motto is: “Glamorous, glossy, grown up.” Your models are barely out of childhood!’

To her credit, Deborah replies: ‘We often use models over 30, equally we will be using models in their 20s if they are right for a story. I think it’s about the way a model carries herself.’

But that’s not good enough. No matter how well a 20-year-old ‘carries herself’, she has no lines, no history, no relevance to women like me.

I’d like to have a passing swipe at Vogue, too. In 2009, editor Alexandra Shulman wrote to every designer telling them she was tired of receiving samples so small she had to hire ever tinier models to fit them.

Well, the latest cover star is American model Arizona Muse — the model I featured on these pages last year, shocked as I was to see her ribs exposed like a long dead corpse in a swimwear shoot.

Also in Vogue’s March issue is teenage Karlie Kloss, she of the 22 in waist. (I won’t accept that Alex has demonstrated diversity by shooting Adele; we only saw her face!).

Alex Shulman has just announced she will give a talk to promote her new book, a novel (no, not a riveting expose of the fashion industry), and will be taking questions from the audience on any subject ‘except the question of why are models so thin’.

It is her duty to answer that question. Just as it is mine to keep asking it, until someone offers the truth.

I showed the photo of the ‘human hourglass’ to a group of young girls. Most said they find her revolting.

But one, aged 14, who has already been in the Priory, said: ‘She looks very thin and ill, but I can’t help thinking maybe I can get my waist to 19 in. If I don’t, maybe I’m not trying hard enough. I think she’s gorgeous . . .’