Versace and Prada join fight against size-zero models
As another model dies, the worldwide campaign against 'unhealthy waifs' grows
10 December 2006
One of the world's premier fashion centres is to take the lead in driving size-zero off the catwalk. The Italian government and leading couture houses have joined forces in a move that will ban dangerously thin models from Milan's fashion week.
Milan stands alongside Paris and New York as one of the world's most important fashion events. Like the other two, it has, until now, resisted demands to stamp out the waif look. The minister and the industry announced that by January they intend to produce a "common plan of action" to induce all players in the fashion business to sign up to a self-regulating programme that will force unhealthily thin models to plump up or get out. And for the first time the industry in Italy is talking about body mass index (BMI), the recognised measure of healthy weight.
The change is part of a growing movement around the world to deal with ultra-thin models and the influence they have on girls and young women. Madrid's fashion week has already banned models with a BMI below 18, following the death of the Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos, and Brazil and Argentina have joined the campaign. Italy initially refused to take action. Mario Boselli, the head of Italy's Camera Nazionale della Moda, which represents houses such as Prada, Versace, and Armani, said: "Our models have no need of regulation." But following the death of a second model, the Brazilian Ana Carolina Reston, in November, the chamber has had second thoughts. The 21-year-old, who was 5'8" tall, weighed just over six stone at her death.
Until now, the fashion shows of Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and other Italian designers have been dominated by cadaverous waif models. So it was a momentous event when Italy's minister for youth, Giovanna Melandri finally persuaded Mr Boselli and his colleagues that Italy's models do need rules.
The January deadline has been imposed with the aim of getting new rules agreed in time for Milan's fashion week in February. The two sides hope that "the greatest number possible of those in the fashion industry will sign up". "The Camera della Moda will take action against designers who do not respect the manifesto," he said. "They could be removed from the fashion calendar, or in the most serious cases, banned from the fashion week altogether."
As Flaminia Spadone, an aide to the youth minister, said: "In the Third World, if someone has an index of less than 18.5, they send in humanitarian aid."
At risk models with a BMI of less than 18
Model for: Chanel, Guess
Model for: Gucci, Burberry, Topshop, Dior
Model for: Dior, Versace
Model for: Louis Vuitton
Model for: Lauren
Safe models with a BMI more than 18
Model for: Prada
Model for: Versace
Model for: Gucci