Last Word: Comet country catwalk models give fashion industry vital shake up
FASHION designers are finally opposing the fixation of using young, size zero models and opting to use curvier women and models of all ages, and it is fantastic to see women from Comet country at the forefront of this bold move, writes Louise McEvoy. Bald
FASHION designers are finally opposing the fixation of using young, size zero models and opting to use curvier women and models of all ages, and it is fantastic to see women from Comet country at the forefront of this bold move, writes Louise McEvoy.
Baldock resident, 81-year-old Daphne Selfe, is Britain's oldest runway model and turned heads at London Fashion Week on Friday when designer Joanna Sykes put her in silver leather jeans and a nude shirt.
Meanwhile Stevenage resident Shirley Edwards is a 68-year-old model who is a face for Models of Diversity - an awareness campaign protesting against the predominant use of young models and size zero models, and encouraging women to feel beautiful regardless of their shape, height, age or ethnicity.
While both Daphne and Shirley are defying the customary use of young models in the fashion industry, knitwear designer Mark Fast has addressed the unhealthy dependence on using stick-thin models by using size 12 and 14 models to showcase at London Fashion Week. However, the disgust of his stylist and creative designer manifesting itself in their decision to both quit perhaps illustrates the deep-seated desire among fashionistas to use very thin models. Malnourished is seemingly the look of the decade.
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Is it possible a few people deviating from the norm can actually bring about a monumental change in the way clothes are modelled in the future, or are these visionaries merely spitting in the wind?
One thing is for sure - the British fashion industry, our second largest employer, has a moral duty to revise its obsession with using models most of the population has little hope of aspiring to.
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It portrays a warped sense of the norm and people consequently wish to reach an unhealthy and largely unattainable look. It ultimately leads to issues with self image, a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem, and in extreme cases, an eating disorder.
It must also be remembered that models themselves are risking their own health. In 2007 a Model Health Inquiry was launched in response to the death of several size zero models - the ultimate fashion victims - but it failed to set out any firm industry guidelines. The World Health Organisation classifies a Body Mass Index of 18.5 or less as underweight. With the average catwalk model weighing in at less than eight stone but with a height of 5'9" - a BMI of 16 - action needs to be taken now.
Tiny frames are not even attractive. You don't look at a model and think 'beautiful', you look at a model and gasp at their emaciated bodies.
The national media has reported an overwhelmingly positive response from the general public to Fast's use curvier women on the catwalk. By acknowledging this and using models who reflect the norm, designers have the opportunity to connect more with people and shy away from being elitist and only for the cool and connected.