Casting Agent James Scully Reveals 'Sadistic And Cruel' Treatment Of Models At Paris Fashion Week

More than 150 models were allegedly left to wait in a stairwell with no lights for three hours by casting agents for Balenciaga, leaving some 'traumatised'

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Sadly, stories of models being mistreated are all too familiar. But all too often they're also swept under the proverbial carpet. But, as Paris Fashion Week kicks into action, one casting agent has lifted the lid on a shameful incident at a casting for one of the event's most anticipated shows - Balenciaga.

So true to my promise at #bofvoices that I would be a voice for any models, agents or all who see things wrong with this business I'm disappointed to come to Paris and hear that the usual suspects are up to the same tricks. I was very disturbed to hear from a number of girls this morning that yesterday at the Balenciaga casting Madia & Rami (serial abusers) held a casting in which they made over 150 girls wait in a stairwell told them they would have to stay over 3 hours to be seen and not to leave. In their usual fashion they shut the door went to lunch and turned off the lights, to the stairs leaving every girl with only the lights of their phones to see. Not only was this sadistic and cruel it was dangerous and left more than a few of the girls I spoke with traumatized. Most of the girls have asked to have their options for Balenciaga cancelled as well as Hermes and Ellie Saab who they also cast for because they refuse to be treated like animals. Balenciaga part of Kering it is a public company and these houses need to know what the people they hire are doing on their behalf before a well deserved law suit comes their way. On top of that I have heard from several agents, some of whom are black that they have received mandate from Lanvin that they do not want to be presented with women of color. And another big house is trying to sneak 15 year olds into paris! It's inconceivable to me that people have no regard for human decency or the lives and feelings of these girls, especially when too too many of these models are under the age of 18 and clearly not equipped to be here but god forbid well sacrifice anything or anyone for an exclusive right? If this behavior continues it's gonna be a long cold week in paris. Please keep sharing your stories with me and I will continue to to share them for you. It seems to be the only way we can force change and give the power back to you models and agents where it rightfully belongs. And I encourage any and all to share this post #watchthisspace

A post shared by james scully (@jamespscully) on

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On Monday James Scully, one of the most prominent casting directors in the fashion industry and a staunch advocate for the appropriate and fair treatment of models, shared an Instagram post that described how over 150 models were left in a stairwell, without lighting, by the casting agency that had been hired to book models for the upcoming Balenciaga, Hermes and Elie Saab shows:

So true to my promise at #bofvoices that I would be a voice for any models, agents or all who see things wrong with this business I'm disappointed to come to Paris and hear that the usual suspects are up to the same tricks. I was very disturbed to hear from a number of girls this morning that yesterday at the Balenciaga casting Madia & Ramy (serial abusers) held a casting in which they made over 150 girls wait in a stairwell told them they would have to stay over 3 hours to be seen and not to leave. In their usual fashion they shut the door went to lunch and turned off the lights, to the stairs leaving every girl with only the lights of their phones to see. Not only was this sadistic and cruel it was dangerous and left more than a few of the girls I spoke with traumatized. Most of the girls have asked to have their options for Balenciaga cancelled as well as Hermes and Ellie Saab who they also cast for because they refuse to be treated like animals. Balenciaga part of Kering it is a public company and these houses need to know what the people they hire are doing on their behalf before a well deserved law suit comes their way.

He went on to describe how fashion house Lanvin allegedly refused to see black models during the casting for its show, and that 'another big [fashion] house' was attempting to use girls aged just 15 - brands are widely discouraged from hiring models under the age of 18, especially through the busy and stressful fashion week season:

On top of that I have heard from several agents, some of whom are black that they have received mandate from Lanvin that they do not want to be presented with women of color. And another big house is trying to sneak 15 year olds into paris! It's inconceivable to me that people have no regard for human decency or the lives and feelings of these girls, especially when too too many of these models are under the age of 18 and clearly not equipped to be here but god forbid well sacrifice anything or anyone for an exclusive right? If this behavior continues it's gonna be a long cold week in paris. Please keep sharing your stories with me and I will continue to to share them for you. It seems to be the only way we can force change and give the power back to you models and agents where it rightfully belongs. And I encourage any and all to share this post #watchthisspace

Scully's Instagram post went viral, unsurprisingly. He has so far received almost 1,000 comments, including messages from top models Doutzen Kroes, Joan Smalls and Hillary Rhoda thanking him for drawing attention to the mistreatment.

Balenciaga have since responded, confirming that it will no longer work with the casting agency that left the models in the stairwell.

In a statement, a representative for the fashion house said:

'On Sunday, February 26th Balenciaga took notice of issues with the model castings carried out on that day. The house reacted immediately, making radical changes to the casting process, including discontinuing the relationship with the current casting agency. Additionally, Balenciaga sent a written apology to the agencies of the models who were affected by this specific situation, asking them to share it with them. Balenciaga condemns this incident and will continue to be deeply committed to ensure the most respectful working conditions for the models.'

With regard to Scully's comment about Lanvin, the fashion house has denied that they refused to see black models.

Let's hope the situation acts as some kind of wake-up call; we passionately demand and campaign for the fair and humane treatment of women in all other working environments, so why not modelling?

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