On November 27, 2012, The Fashion Law Institute hosted a phenomenal event at Fordham Law School. The Fashion Law Institute was founded in 2010 by the collaboration of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) the remarkable Diane von Furstenberg and the esteemed Fordham Law School in 2010, and is the only legal program with the focus in fashion. Awesome, right?
The panel that was at this event could not have been any better. The members of the panel were as follows (in no particular order):
Valerie Boster: Bookings Editor at American Vogue
Nian Fish: Chair of the CFDA Health Initiative
Colleen Furman: Co-Founder of Studio One Up
Joey Grill: Co-Founder of Click Model Management, Inc.
Brice Lucas: Chief-Marketing Officer at ReisReports
Mark Perlin: Financial Consultant
Crystal Renn: Model and Author of her memoir Hungry
Wayne Sterling: Co-Founder of Mix Model Management
Evan Stone: General Consultant of Wilhelmina Model Management, Inc.
Roman Young: Director of Woman/Image Division at Wilhelmina Models
Sara Ziff: Founder and Director of the Model Alliance
The Fashion Law Institutes very own Professor Ali Grace Marquart and Professor Doreen Small moderated the event.
The event’s lecture had two focuses:
1. Models: their age, health, and what’s going on behind closed doors.
2. How technology was affecting the modeling industry and the fashion industry alike.
Fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle, and W, have had models gracing their covers and pages for decades. Reality TV such as America’s Next Top Model have given a small glimpse of what it is like to be a model and what it takes to become a model. The process of entering the modeling world and becoming successful is with out a doubt one the most difficult. After all, the modeling industry is the most critical and unforgiving. Judgements are quickly made, and diets are devised and ADVISED before knowing the medical standings of each person who walks through the door of a modeling agency.
For all of us, even after being exposed to all of the media outlets that showcase models (print, tv, web etc.), thought of what the average day for a working model usually goes unthought. It is not 24/7 a runway or photo-shoot with all hair, makeup and styling provided. Air brushing, not included!
In a nutshell, the event brought to attention the health and the well being of models. A lot of the testimonies given by the panel were in favor of promoting the health of models. In hopes of creating awareness on model health, the CFDA created the Health Initiative.
“In January 2007, the CFDA formed a health initiative to address what has become a global fashion issue: the overwhelming concern about whether some models are unhealthily thin, and whether or not to impose restrictions in such cases.”
In this initiative there are guidelines that must be adhered to. Some of these guidelines state that models should be provided with healthy snacks and meals and water backstage and at shoots, as well as educating the models about fitness and nutrition. There are also guidelines regarding the hiring of models under the age of sixteen for runway shows. This action is one that is wanting to be prohibited. There are many models that enter the industry at a very young age and are worked way passed their limits. The CFDA wants to change that, and make sure that models are working normal workable and legal hours.
“The CFDA Health Initiative is about awareness, education, and safety, not policing. The CFDA Health Initiative is committed to the notion of a healthy mind in a healthy body, and there cannot be one without the other.”
Model and author Crystal Renn shared her modeling experiences while suffering from an eating disorder. She emphasized how there is no middle ground in the modeling industry, especially for high fashion and luxury brands! The size clothing sizes only range in the the 0/2 or the plus sizes brackets. There are no middle ground sizes, such as an 4/6/8, which is something that is desperately needed. In Wren’s opinion, this overly needed change within the modeling industry will come when designers make it more difficult for models to be a size 0 and start creating the middle sizes. This way there is a representative for women of all sizes and not just of specific target.
Valarie Boster, shared her experience booking and hiring models. She expressed that the average model age for Vogue is 22/23. For a model to be successful in her eyes, she needs life experiences, and a young girl who is barely 18 has very little life experience. Like the CFDA, Vogue also seeks to protect the health and well being of its models.
Sara Ziff, who created the Model Alliance, also wants to protect models. Although her brand is not a union, it still seeks to help models maintain a healthy lifestyle, in addition to its efforts to protect models in all legal aspects of the modeling industry.
Okay, so now you’re probably wondering how technology is affecting the modeling industry and the fashion industry alike. For one thing, according to Joey Grill, who is the co-founder of Click Model Management, says that technology, currently and within the next five years, is and bring the models closer to the people, so to speak. It used to be that models, photographers, stylist, and who ever else was necessary for a photo shoot would travel to fashion cities such as New York and Los Angeles to do a photo shoot. However, that’s changing now. The photo shoots can be done in any city, and make it look like it took place in a location such as New York.
Another aspect of technology is social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc? Although they are fun ways to stay connected they can also be dangerous. It is very important that models using these social media platforms do not post everything on their pages! Why, you ask? Posting about the goings on behind the scenes of a shoot can cost a designer or brand tons of money by exposing work that has been kept under wraps for months, making it easier for other brands and/or fast fashion brands to nock off their ideas before it was even previewed to the fashion industry notables! It can also cause problems for said models regarding her confidentiality agreement which can result in brands not wanting to sign them for any work within the industry. Once the collection is issued to the public, post away on your past experiences, but until then; Models, beware of what you post.
It is sufficient to say that this event had a great turn out, and really put focus on issues that would otherwise be left untouched or pushed to the side. The panel was knowledgeable and informative, and really shed light on the modeling world from the past to the present, and even the future. The things that the industry experts like Sara Ziff, the CFDA, Nian Fish, and Crystal Renn are doing to help models is truly exceptional. It truly is important to help models legally, to make sure that they are not signing contracts that have ridiculous terms, for example; making sure the model does not to gain more than 2 cm on their hips, ever!! Crazy!!! It is also important to make sure that models are eating healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
As fabulous as fashion may seem, a person’s health is far more important. Who wants to see an unnatural, skeletal like creature gracing the pages of our most beloved glossies? This is not a good example or the young and impressionable girls who are a big fan base of our top fashion magazines! Natural beauty is beautiful and fitness and health are two things that will never go out of style.
For more information on Fordham Law School’s Fashion Law Program: http://fashionlawinstitute.com/
Written by Johnny Matatov
Edited by Dara Senders
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