DVF issues model health guidelines

Diane von Furstenberg drew fire last season when it emerged that the Council of Fashion Designers of America president had countervailed her own guidelines by unwittingly hiring an underage model to walk in her show.

The designer apologised for the error, and now she’s urging fellow designers to avoid her mistake.

In a letter conveying CFDA Health Initiative guidelines to the fashion industry, von Furstenberg exhorts designers to check models’ IDs on show day to ensure they are at least 16 years old.

‘Any model walking in the Diane von Furstenberg runway will have shown i.d. prior to the show,’ she writes. ‘We do impact the lives of women and we can set a strong example of a well balanced life on our runways.’

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She also asks designers to ‘consider model privacy’ by asking photographers to leave the backstage area as the models change into their first show looks.

Von Furstenberg goes on to remind designers of their responsibility to models.

‘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,’ she writes. ‘Designers share a responsibility to protect women, and very young girls in particular, within the business, sending the message that beauty is health.’

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The guidelines include educating industry members about the early warning signs of eating disorders, encouraging at-risk models to seek professional help and supplying healthy meals and snacks backstage.

‘Although we cannot fully assume responsibility for an issue that is as complex as eating disorders and that occurs in many walks of life, the fashion industry can begin a campaign of awareness and create an atmosphere that supports the wellbeing of these young women,’ she says.

Promoting a positive work environment and providing basics like food, water and privacy to the very young contractors (i.e., models) upon whose slender shoulders the desire and bankability of the fashion industry rests seems like a very good idea to us. It becomes an even better idea if its main proponents uphold their own recommendations.

What do you think: will designers take von Furstenberg’s guidelines to heart, or will we hear more tales of underage workers coming out of show season next month?

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