France’s Fashion Giants Pledge to End Abuse of Models

September 6, 2017, 11:20 AM UTC

Two of France’s fashion giants have published a charter guaranteeing the rights of models, after a series of controversies about poor treatment and an inappropriate focus on thinness.

Kering, the owner of Gucci and Balenciaga (among others), and LVMH, whose brands include Saint Laurent and Christian Dior Couture, said in a statement that: “Respecting the dignity of every man and woman is at the heart of both group’s values…LVMH and Kering feel that they have a specific responsibility, as leaders in the industry, to go one step further with their brands.”

The charter will require models to have a valid certificate of health no more than six months old. In addition, it bans the use of models under 16 years for adult products, and guarantees that models between 16 and 18 will have access to a guardian or chaperone, will not be forced to work at night, and will be able to attend school. It also stipulates that models must have the chance to make a direct complaint in the case of a dispute with a modeling agency, a casting director, or a brand.

The groups are also trying to defend themselves against charges of causing eating disorders both among models and among women at large by promoting “size zero” images. In the future, agencies will be forced to use female models starting at French size 34, which equates to a U.S. size 2.

The fashion industry has been blighted for years by its sometimes shocking treatment of models. As recently as March, Balenciaga fired two casting directors, Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes, who reportedly left over 150 models waiting in an unlit stairwell for three hours while they had lunch together.