There has always been much speculation and a lot of myths around the fashion industry. What is the actual state of affairs in “the most beautiful business”? Hardly anyone will be really surprised to know that not everything is so glamorous and legal there.
Model Alliance, or What Do Retired Models Do?
What can a retired model do? This question is sooner or later asked by every girl, who appears on the catwalks in New York, Milan or Paris. Some people opt for the family, making an effort to create it even at the height of their career. Others are looking forward to appearing in show business or fashion business and try to have a closer look at the profession of a stylist, an actress, a photographer and a creator of jewelery/shirts/hats as early as possible. Those, who just find it insufficient, devote themselves to social activities. Such a choice has been made by Sara Ziff, who created a Model Alliance organization to protect the rights of the models.
29-year-old Sarah has reached respectable heights in “modeling“. She made her debut a decade ago – and at once at the shows by Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga and Chloe. Then she acted in D&G and Stella McCartney commercials, not to mention the glossy photo shoots and magazine covers. Six years ago, she left the catwalk with a clear conscience and went to Columbia University. There she came up with the idea of creating a “Model Alliance.” Sara’s idea was supported by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), headed by Diane von Fürstenberg.
Diane von Fürstenberg Is for Healthy Modeling
It is not the first year that Diane von Fürstenberg claims models should look “healthy” rather than emaciated and thin. Fürstenberg does not like the fact that the diet of young girls is mostly composed of champagne and cigarettes. After the designer’s appeal to the CFDA, the possibility of providing the models with a healthy meal before every show was studied. The Council also urges the designers not to book girls under the age of sixteen years for the shows. However, few of them follow this recommendation.
Valeria Sestic Started Modeling at 14
A Croatian girl with a Swiss passport Valeria Sestic made her debut on the catwalk last fall, having participated in 16 shows during her 15 days in New York City. At that time she was only fourteen, but the agents claimed with confidence that Sestic was a couple of years older to avoid problems. When the truth was revealed, it was too late. Having started with the New York performance, Valeria is extremely popular among the designers, who believe that the girl is first of all set up for the catwalk and she has got enough experience to feel at the party like a fish in water.
Sara Ziff and a few dozens of like-minded women (models, human rights activists and lawyers among them) fail to accept this situation. Ziff and other women are opposed to an early “start” of the modeling career, unacceptable working conditions, promotion of drug use and anorexia, and, of course, sexual harassment.
Sexual Harassment in the Fashion World
“The Model Alliance” will find it difficult to deal with sexual harassment. It is much easier to get rid of the accusations of “harassment” than you think. A good example is the scandal with the photographer Terry Richardson, known for provocative shots in the style of soft pornography. No less provocative are the methods of work of the photographer and prankster. According to the stories of several beginning models, Terry feels more than relaxed at the shooting and often forces the models to do what the pages of glossy magazines do not usually show.
Terry Richardson Fashion Scandal
First, Richardson insisted that this was the revenge of the girls, who could not hope to become successful. But soon the top model Rie Rasmussen supported other girls, witnessing that Terry would not mind misusing the “official position” and going beyond. Nevertheless, the scandal quickly faded away. Richardson is still under contract with major fashion magazines, because his shots are very cool, indeed.
All of these stories are confirmed by the survey conducted by “the Model Alliance” at New York Fashion Week last February:
- More than half of the models started to work at the age of 13-16 years.
- Most parents do not accompany their teen girls to castings and fittings.
- Over 80% admitted that they had experimented with drugs, and 50% of them had used cocaine.
- Almost a third of the models were forced to have sex with the men, whom they encountered at work.
- 29% said they frequently experienced sexual harassment.
Models’ Problems: Harassment, Weight, Depression
Sara Ziff herself states that it is only the tip of the iceberg. Many models complain not only of harassment and the requirements to lose weight (despite the initial parameters), but also of depression, which, according to Ziff, is the professional disease of many models. The Alliance also wanted to solve the problem with the payment for models’ work. It is known that many designers pay the girls in the form of clothing and footwear from the displays. Of course, it is unfair, as Ziff believes. She appeals to the models from around the world to first of all rely on their brain rather than on beautiful eyes and long legs.