You may have noticed: models are young. And white. And very thin. And very, very, very vulnerable.
As for why, there is a massive industry-wide blame game with no one taking responsibility. Agencies claim it’s the clients demanding very young girls. Clients claim it’s the agencies sending them very young girls. Designers say it’s everyone but them. All the while, sample sizes keep shrinking and the median age of high fashion models keeps ticking down. It seems to hover around 14-16 these days.
We’ve made some inroads here and there–Vogue‘s health initiative declared the Vogue empire wouldn’t work with models too young or too thin (which they fucked up in record time) and there was also Diane von Furtsenberg‘s crusade for catwalk models over 16 at NYFW (unfortunately, she promptly cast a then-15 year old Hailey Clauson).
But the only way this awful cycle will change is if industry leaders simply do something about it. Something actual.
And Miuccia Prada, one of the most powerful women in all of fashion, isn’t going to do shit. Because she’s afraid. In her profile in T Magazine, the following exchange about “the horrors of aging” takes place:
We talked about how her sense of style might become an instrument of even greater change. Why, for instance, do women behave as if age is a prison? Isn’t our era’s obsession with youth a form of mass hysteria? “It is much more of a drama for women, the business of aging. No one wants to age, and I really think we should find a solution. Especially because we live so much longer,” she said. “It used to be that a woman would have only one life, one husband, and if you were bored that was that. Now, you can have two or three lives. So even the concept of family is changing. I think this question of aging will define the society of the future.”
“So why not use older models sometimes?” I asked.
“Mine is not an artistic world, it is a commercial world. I cannot change the rules.”
“But you change the rules,” I said. “If you put an old lady on the runway, other people would do it too.”
She laughed. In that light her eyes were green; before I asked the question they were brown. “Let’s say I’m not brave enough. I don’t have the courage.”
This is bullshit.
And a false dilemma. Are “old ladies” really the only alternative to Estonian 14-year-olds?
So, yeah, the single most scrutinized catwalk in all of Milan (in terms of its cast) won’t be doing anything new or surprising for the foreseeable future. Expect thin white teens! Lots of thin white teens!
…Then again, anyone looking to Miuccia Prada for boundary-breaking casting choices should just give up. The woman didn’t allow a black model on her runway for an entire decade.
(T Magazine, photo via Wenn)