The split between the reality of what women look like and the fashion industry's ideal female is now so great, it is causing very serious problems for fashion designers. Desperate to stop this bizarre culture, a Spanish city is demanding fashion models look more like normal human females. Designers show contempt and disgust at this idea.
By Fran Yeoman, Carolyn Asome and Graham Keeley, in Barcelona
REAL women will rejoice at the news: waif-like models are being pushed off the catwalk.
The organisers of Madrid Fashion Week have announced that they are banning skinny women to develop a more healthy image for the event this month. If any very skinny models do turn up, they will be classed as unhealthy and in need of medical help.
The move has been heralded as good news for younger and lesser-known models, who often force themselves to become thin in the battle to secure a place among the top flight. But pear-shaped females should not celebrate too heartily, for the leading names of world fashion are showing no sign of following in the Spaniards’ footsteps. The Pasarela Cibeles trade fair in Madrid is a minnow compared with the big fish of Milan, Paris, New York and London fashion weeks.
Madrid city council, which sponsors the fashion week, has ordered that every model on show must have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 18. Models who are 5ft 9in (1.75m) tall must weigh a minimum of 8st 11oz (56 kg).
If you look at closeup pictures of fashion models, they have got to be the most bummed-out people on earth. The ones I knew in NYC years ago were all starving to death. To keep skinny, they used heroin and cocaine. So they were all zombies. You just cannot eat. As one photographer I knew long ago said, 'Making love to a fashion model is like riding a bicycle.'
One would imagine the designers would want to design clothing for real women. They did do that, once upon a time! In earlier centuries, the people making clothes made them to size, namely, when monarchs or rich women wanted to have a profile or some sort of ideal shape, the designer then tried to make it all fit.
Now it is the reverse. If one wants to wear fashionable clothing, one must be six feet tall and shaped like a man. Indeed, most fashion designers are men and it is obvious what their ideal is.
As we witness a world obesity epidemic, one would expect fashions to reflect this reality. After all, in the 1600s, for example, clothing worn by the upper classes celebrated fat! Painters adored fat men and women. The feminine ideal of Rubens weighed three times as much as a fashion model today. And if you look at paintings of them in clothing, they looked very charming, indeed, sexy and beautiful.
They also wore corsets and other devices.
By CATHY HORYN NYT
Published: September 7, 2006
As another runway season begins with New York Fashion Week tomorrow, a tide seems to have turned against designers and even perhaps against talent. To be sure, we writers are notoriously uneven when it comes to predicting fashion’s demise. We’ve got it wrong so many times that reparations seem in order for all the trellises we’ve collapsed. Fashion has never touched more lives than it does at the moment, and by so many different means — reality television shows like “Project Runway,” Web sites and blogs, corporate sponsorships (like those that underwrite many of the shows in Bryant Park), design competitions and international trade fairs.
But if he is like any number of chief executives in Paris these days — the exasperation breaking through the polished surface — he will want clothes that sell. As Ralph Toledano, the chief executive of Chloé, said, referring to the popular strategy of creating runway drama in order to sell bread-and-butter purses: “The problem is that formula has a real limit, and we’ve reached the limit. At the end of the day, our garment must be sold. It can’t just create drama among 500 people, including you and me.”
The drama queens in the fashion industry know they are in serious trouble. As they abandon sewing clothing suitible for the present population, they become more and more enamored with putting on Baroque theatrics. As if every fashion show were a tacky Broadway musical for Asian tourists. Instead of championing clothing that will put some sense of order in our lives, they go off on a wild goose chase after aesthetic ideals that require living the life of a starving hermit.
The need for pulling us all back into some sense of bodily control is very important. Look at the tremendously ugly, utterly inappropriate designs at Style Magazine this week! For years, I would make fun of fashion shows. Now, it is totally insane. Ugh. It is as if beauty is the beast and the beast ate the designer for breakfast. Why are they insisting on these nightmarish designs?
Bubble dresses? Gads. Is this a celebration of the collapse of the real estate bubble? We get a fashion bubble? Despite lousy sales, the designers egg each other on.
Click on image to enlarge
When I was young, in the fifties, they used to photograph girls in order to detect spinal problems. Teachers never allowed us to slouch at our desks and everyone was urged to sit erect, shoulders back, head up. I do this today without thinking. When we were young, we practiced gliding along with books balanced on the head. We practiced stepping with the feet turning out, not pigeon-toed.
This took a lot of effort. When watching the tremendously tall, skinny models stomping up and down the catwalks, it is astonishing how clumsy and shambling they all are. When they parade out in a troop, the heads bop up and down hypnotically. If they were in the military, the drill sergeant would have a hissy fit and make them do 500 push-ups.
The impending back problems I see developing in the last 30 years are most dangerous. For 500 years, women and even men wore corsets or restraints of some sort. Armor, for example, is very restraining, I have fought in full steel plate armor and you stand very straight in it! If you don't, the heavy helmet will cause a very nasty headache! I notice the guys who fought with me also stood straighter than their contemporaries for the same reason.
When one lives more than 50 years, a humped back becomes a very serious medical problem. Curvature of the spine shortens lives. I used to dance in Victorian costumes including the corsets of that time period. It is actually pretty comfortable, it keeps one up and alert. Fashion excess caused many women over the centuries to lace up too severely, of course. An iron rule is, people tend to excess no matter what is at stake.
But the slouching is now a fashion epidemic, namely, people are increasingly careless of their dress, their mannerisms, the way they look. Even deep within the fashion industry itself. If one looks at the audiences at the shows, they are nearly all dressed in black, have been for years and years, they don't look even remotely like the models on the runway.
Worse, the models, the minute they can avoid the stuff they strut, don't look anything like what they wear. And this is most likely the reason why they all look so bored, unhappy or disgusted as they bob in and out of view. The stuff they are wearing is so hideous, Medusa herself wouldn't be caught dead in it.