[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n October 2013, New York passed legislation to classify models under the age of 18 as “child performers” and protect them under the Department of Labor. The law went into effect on November 2013, but has not yet been tested. Until now …
How well does it work at NY Fashion Week? Does it create a healthier work environment?
Background of the law
Back in 2007, Diana von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb recognized the young age of models, the increased risk of models developing an eating disorder and concern about unhealthily thin models. In response to their concerns, Von Furstenberg and Kolb initiated Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) to promote a healthy work environment for models. Due to government lobby in cooperation with the Model Alliance, the guideline has been adopted as a law in November 2013.
Models show ID’s
Today is the last day of New York Fashion Week. Designers like Donna Karan, Diana von Furstenberg and Carolina Herrera show their designs on the runway. With the Under Age Model Law operating at New Yorks fashion week for the first time, models were required to show their ID’s at their show castings. For designers the law means easier working hours (12 hour breaks between jobs and not working after midnight) and lots of paper work for under aged models.
Lindsey Wixon, now 19, started her career at the age of 15 and fully supports the law. “I think it’s good to keep it at 18 and above. For some girls, it’s a little too much pressure.”
Efficacy of the law
How well is this law actually performing? According to James Scully, casting director for designers like Tom Ford, Jason Wu, Derek Lam, the law is working well. Scully states that in previous years, 60% of models at NY fashion week were under the age of 18. This year, out of 350 models, just 3 models were under the age of 18.
The size zero body image ideal represented by the fashion industry has been an endlessly covered item in the media and so did we. Hypotheses that the Under Age Model Law would change the idealized body ideal from a size zero to a curvier image, or at least change the body image represented by the fashion industry, could be wrong; Scully mentioned that although most models on the runway this season were between 20 and 24 years old, the aesthetic look wasn’t so much different from that of a 15 year old, “so it does prove that this [represent a size zero body image without the use of 15-year olds] can be done.”
Kolbs, executive officer of the CFDA, says the industry has responded positively to the legislation and progress is made, although much work remains to be done; “there will always be people who go against the grain.” Kolbs is therefore giving the industry a ‘B’.
1. What do you think about Scully’s statement that mature models can fulfil the job of a 15-year old?
2. Have you been doing show castings or shows at New York Fashion Week this season as an under aged model?
Featured image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York Spring/Summer 2014