A furore over the alleged mistreatment of dozens of models behind the scenes at fashion week has threatened to overshadow the glamour in Paris, where the world’s top designers presented their collections on Wednesday.
On the same day that models took to the catwalk for brands including Maison Margiela and Lanvin, Balenciaga – one of the most influential labels – said it had sacked its casting agency after a prominent casting director said models had been subjected to “sadistic and cruel” treatment.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, James Scully, a veteran of the industry, wrote: “I’m disappointed to come to Paris and hear that the usual suspects are up to the same tricks.”I've seen their pictures, and most of them have legs. Why don't they just walk away?
He alleged that at a recent Balenciaga casting, 150 models had been made to wait in a dark stairwell for hours while a pair of casting directors who Scully claimed were “serial abusers” ate their lunch.
“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,” he wrote. “Not only was this sadistic and cruel it was dangerous and left more than a few of the girls I spoke with traumatised.”
Maida Gregori Boina, one of the casting directors accused by Scully, denied the allegations and said that she condemned him “for posting inaccurate and libellous remarks”.
Scully, whose post garnered support from supermodels Joan Smalls, Helena Christensen and Carolyn Murphy, also accused the French label Lanvin of discrimination against black models.
Top British model Edie Campbell told the Guardian that Scully’s description of the models’ alleged treatment at casting for the Balenciaga show was nothing out of the ordinary.
“It’s also probably not the most shocking example I’ve heard,” Campbell said. “I’ve been incredibly lucky. I have – by luck and by good management – made it to the top 1% who manage to have a voice and agency over their own careers. [But] I have witnessed a lot of upsetting things. I’ve seen girls be told to run laps around the studio. It’s a cattle market.
Singer and model Rina Sawayama said she had experienced shocking racism on photoshoots with major global brands. “Sometimes when you are the only person of colour on set you feel as though you just need to put your head down, just lucky you’re there anyway, got to please them,” she said. “But luckily things are changing and the conversation is shifting. It will take ages but social media speeds things up.”But I thought all those fashion types were liberal. You mean they're all racists?
Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Whitewashing The Cyborg" ready for your viewing pleasure.