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Models’ working conditions in the spotlight

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Model Alliance logoTwo years ago, Sara Ziff’s documentary Picture Me took audiences behind the fashion industry’s glamorous façade to provide a glimpse of the seedier side of life as a fashion model, with first-hand, direct-to-camera accounts of sexual and financial exploitation, and the objectification of models. More recently, Channel 4’s fly-on-the-wall series The Model Agency raised questions about model agents’ duty of care to the vulnerable young girls they have on their books.

Now Ziff has launched the Model Alliance, a non-profit organisation that “provides a platform for models and leaders in the fashion industry to organize to radically improve the conditions under which models work”. The initiative, which is focused on supporting models in the United States, has attracted support from high-profile names like Coco Rocha and Diane von Furstenberg.

By contrast, here in the UK (where models are eligible to join the Equity union), there has been some bad news ahead of London Fashion Week: Erin O’Connor’s Model Sanctuary will not be operating this season, due to difficulties in securing a venue. In a statement on the Model Sanctuary website, Erin indicates that she hopes the Sanctuary will be back in September with a permanent home.

Written by Jack

February 3rd, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Industry

Fashion Week dates clash resolved… for now

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The organisers of the New York and London fashion weeks have agreed to move their dates for September 2012 forward by a week in order to avoid a clash between the London and Milan schedules. According to a joint press release, New York Fashion Week (NYFW) will now run from September 6-13th, with London Fashion Week (LFW) following on immediate from September 14-18th. Milan Fashion Week (MFW) was already announced as starting on September 19th.

The move represents a compromise by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and the British Fashion Council (BFC). NYFW will now start just a few days after the United States’ Labor Day national holiday, which falls on the first Monday in September, putting increased pressure on designers showing at NYFW. The BFC (which had already been disadvantaged last September by many top models’ late arrival from New York and early departure to Milan to attend pre-casting for the Gucci show) also faced a challenge in rescheduling, due to the fact that the main LFW venue, Somerset House, is set to become “Casa Brasil” during this year’s Olympic Games. With the Paralympics closing ceremony occurring on September 9th, it was only possible to schedule a September 14th start for LFW with the cooperation of the Brazilian Olympic Committee.

In 2008, the organisers of the four major fashion weeks agreed a coordinated schedule, with NYFW starting on the second Thursday in September, and the London, Milan and Paris events following on, sequentially. However, last year, the MFW organisers, Camera Nationale della Moda (CNdM) announced dates for September 2012 which would clash with both New York and London, claiming that the 2008 agreement was only valid for three years. Chambre Syndicale followed the Italians by announcing that Paris Fashion Week would start straight after MFW finished.

There is, as yet, no word on what CNdM will do for 2013 but their thinking is likely to be influenced by the backlash they experienced when they announced this year’s dates – the chairman of Condé Nast went so far as to write to the Italians to warn them that the editors of Vogue (including Anna Wintour and Alexandra Shulman) would skip Milan’s shows if they clashed with New York and London. Now that the CFDA and British Fashion Council have gone to extra mile to avoid a clash this year, many would consider continued intransigence on the part of the Italians to be churlish. The Parisians, too, are likely to play a significant role, as the two largest fashion conglomerates – LVMH and PPR – are French.

Written by Jack

January 19th, 2012 at 11:03 am