French fashion giants ban ultra-thin models

French fashion giants ban ultra-thin models
PHOTO: AFP

A host of French-owned fashion labels spanning Christian Dior to Saint Laurent pledged Wednesday to ban ultra-thin models from their advertising and catwalk shows following criticism that the industry encourages anorexia.

French holding companies LVMH and Kering, which own dozens of top brands between them, unveiled a charter "to ensure the well-being of models" which will also outlaw the hiring of girls under the age of 16 for adult shoots or events.

In May, a French law requiring models to present a doctor's certificate attesting to their good health was introduced to try to tackle the problem of the industry promoting thinness and unattainable beauty ideals.

The two French groups said they wanted to go beyond this requirement and would only use female models who were size 34 or over according to the French system, and men sized 44 or over.

Size 32 in France corresponds to XXS, or size 6 in Britain and size 0 in the United States.

"Respecting the dignity of all women has always been both a personal commitment for me and a priority for Kering as a group," the company's billionaire chairman François-Henri Pinault said in a statement.

"We hope to inspire the entire industry to follow suit, thus making a real difference in the working conditions of fashion models industry-wide," he added.

Building new standards

As well as the age and size stipulations, the charter includes other measures such as banning the serving of alcohol to models under 18 and ensuring they have a guardian or chaperone present at all times.

"As the leader in the luxury sector, we believe it is our role to be at the forefront of this initiative," said Antoine Arnault, a board member of LVMH and son of owner Bernard Arnault, in a statement.

"We have the responsibility of building new standards for fashion and we hope to be followed by other players in our sector," he added.

Speaking to AFP, Arnault explained that some unnamed designers worked with size 32 models.

"That's finished now, the size will be 34 and above, which is already quite small," he said.

LVMH is a luxury goods behemoth that owns classic French brands Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Givenchy as well as other high-end European names including Fendi and Marc Jacobs.

Kering owns Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen and Saint Laurent among others.

In 2015, Saint Laurent had to withdraw a magazine advertisement in Britain over its use of of an "unhealthily thin model" and earlier this year, it caused outrage with a poster campaign around Paris.

In those pictures, a reclining woman in a fur coat and fishnet tights was pictured opening her legs, while another extremely thin model was photographed in a leotard and roller skate stilettos bending over a stool.

The head of the French advertising authority said they were part of a disturbing trend in fashion promoting "porno-chic" and the label was ordered to remove them.

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