Following many scandals over the years about maltreatment of models and anorexia, some of the biggest French-owned fashion houses have pledged to ban super, unhealthily-thin models from their catwalks and advertising. Under the pledge or charter, each brand will be required to provide a dedicated psychologist available to fashion models during working hours, be that in person or via the telephone.
The labels are under the umbrella of fashion corporations Kering and LVMH. Kering owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, and a host of others. LVMH is a luxury goods giant, owning the traditional brands from France: Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, and top European labels including Fendi.
The labels included in the pledge are also: Kenzo, Stella McCartney, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Bottega Veneta
The French fashion Corporations Kering and LVMH, have designed their charter to comply with a new rule of law in France, which was adopted in May and came into effect on October 1 this year. The law was adopted as a solution aimed at tackling the problem of the fashion industry promoting unattainable beauty ideals and unhealthy, skeletal thinness. It was passed to protect the physical and psychological health of models working in the fashion industry. According to the new law, before they can work in the industry, all models will now have to provide proof of their health via a medical certificate which spans the previous two years. However, Kering and LVMH have gone further and require a medical certificate covering the previous six months.
The law at first required a minimum body mass index (BDI), but that was removed when it was decided a doctor’s certificate would suffice. The fashion houses have also promised to ban the labels from using female fashion models under a women’s size 34 (French) which is the same as an Australian, UK and New Zealand women’s size 6.
The new charter or agreements will also apply to Kering and LVMH labels presented in London, New York, and Milan, which is not required under the new French law, but is an initiative by the corporations and will take effect in time for the Spring-Summer runway collections. The agreement or charter was unveiled by the two corporations last month saying it was to ensure the wellbeing of models and includes banning the employment of girls under 16 years of age from wearing clothes designed for adults.
I a statement, Kering’s billionaire chairman François-Henri Pinault said respecting the dignity of all women had always been both a personal commitment and a priority for Kering as a group. He also said he hoped the entire fashion industry would be inspired to follow suit.
Along with changes to size and age rules, the charter brings in other measures including the banning of alcohol being offered to models under 18 years of age and making certain the under-age models have a chaperone or guardian with them at all times.
The industry has for many years been charged with disregarding well-known health problems suffered by models and also with encouraging unhealthy body images to women as a whole. The major changes were triggered last year when former supermodel Victoire Dauxerre, from France, released a revealing book about the pressures placed on her to fit into size 32-24 clothes which caused her to eat only three apples a day and to take laxatives. In the midst of Milan fashion week 2007, and just before she died of anorexia, model Isabelle Caro (France) led an alarming anti-anorexia campaign. Another trigger for the new laws and industry changes was a scandal during Paris Fashion Week in February which highlighted abuses by casting agencies that provide the big labels with models.