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Monday, August 15, 2005

What else is news?

Not much has changed in the past ten years in the modeling biz - here is what the UK Telegraph was reporting back in August 1996:

Agencies 'seek out anorexic models'
By Celia Hall, Medical Editor

TEENAGE girls already suffering from eating disorders are being approached by some model agencies seeking new "superwaifs", a report claims today.
Some are told to lose even more weight according to the investigation in Company magazine, which says emaciated girls are stopped in the street by agency scouts. Despite concerns that "super-thin" models are influencing young girls to diet excessively, thin models continue to be in demand. One former model agency employee says in the article: "The look is thin and the thinner the better".
Earlier this summer Omega, the watchmakers, threatened to boycott Vogue magazine over its use of superwaifs.
(says me - the superwaif was Trish Joff)
In the Company article one teenager, Lucy Cope, 15, says she had been approached by two agencies that said she had the right look. At the time, she was anorexic, weighed six-and-a-half stone and was a patient at a centre for eating disorders.
Another girl, Lucy Stanley, 5ft 8in and weighing seven-and-a-half stone, tried a number of agencies but was told she was too fat. She was suffering from anorexia and bulimia.
(says me - same as Karen Elson, discovered in 1996)
"At one agency I was told, 'with a bum that size you won't get anywhere'. Another said my hips were way too fat." Another told her to return when she had lost two stone. "I looked like a maniac. My cheeks were hollow, my eyes had sunk into my face and my skin was terrible. How can that be considered beautiful?" she said. Lucy has since gained weight.
Model agencies responding in the magazine said they did not knowingly recruit girls with eating disorders....

And a certain DNA Models teenage mod is said to have lost a lot of weight coz "she has a worm" - and of course, the agency has done nothing about it...I wonder if the NYC DA office prosecutes negligence of this sort.

1995-1997 was the era of "Cool Britannia" and "heroin chic" - NYC "anglophiles" loved the concept, but the hip fashion trend collapsed in late Spring 1997, after the much-publicised death of photographer Davide Sorrenti. Even Slick Willy blasted the fashion/modeling biz - the NY Times Fashion section hacks often express relief that people are not that bothered nowdays...

UK Telegraph - Friday 23 May 1997
Clinton denounces 'heroin chic'
By Charles Laurence
THE fashion industry in America has been denounced by President Clinton for glamorising heroin. He attacked "heroin chic" photography that depicts models seemingly "high" on the drug and displaying the drawn, emaciated look associated with addiction.
"You do not need to glamorise addiction to sell clothes," Mr Clinton told the nation's mayors. "Some fashion leaders are admitting flat-out that images projected in fashion photos in the last few years have made heroin addiction seem glamorous and sexy and cool.
"And as some of the people in those images start to die now, it's become obvious that is not true. The glorification of heroin is not creative, it's destructive. It's not beautiful, it is ugly. And this is not about art, it's about life and death. And glorifying death is not good for any society."
However, heroin chic has been declared improper and - more significantly - passé in New York. Glossy fashion magazines and "cutting-edge" journals for the young have promised to substitute "sunny and healthy" photographs this summer in place of the trend that for several years had models depicted nodding-off in public lavatories.
The change of heart follows the death of Davide Sorrenti, 20, the New York photographer who was at the forefront of the city's heroin chic. He died of a heroin overdose in February. His former girlfriend, James King, the spindly teenage model, has been treated for drug addiction.
The pledge to end the trend was announced in a New York Times story that quoted Terry Jones, the editor of the British magazine I-D, which helped launch heroin chic, as promising a "freshen-up" issue in July. "The point of Davide's death is that it has highlighted a problem," he said.
But the change of fashion was greeted with doubt and some cynicism in Manhattan fashion circles. Specialists in drug abuse have been announcing evidence of a dramatic spread of heroin among those who read the sort of magazines that had exploited heroin chic.
After several years of complaints from parents who accused magazines of inspiring their daughters to eating disorders and drug abuse, the campaign against heroin chic changed gear after Sorrenti's death. His mother, the photographer Francesca Sorrenti, sent faxes to every picture editor in New York, criticising them for using such young models in suggestive, decadent poses and urged them to "pay attention to what they are doing. The image promoted has its consequences," she said. "Davide was allowed by a lot of editors to do whatever he pleased."
Mrs Sorrenti added: "Editors
(me says - I wonder which major "chic" editrixes she meant) watch as children cover their track marks with body make-up. Bags of cocaine are given as Christmas gifts. Children are lured to other agencies because they are drug-friendlier." (me says - anyone remembers which NYC agencies were "drug friendlier" a decade ago?)
Her son took photographs for I-D, Detour, Interview and other magazines before his death. Other photographers associated with heroin chic include Juergen Teller, Craig McDean, David Sims and Terry Richardson.
Sorrenti's older brother, Mario, 25, took the pictures for the Calvin Klein advertising campaign for the perfume Obsession, featuring Kate Moss, his girlfriend at the time. This campaign drew comment from President Clinton, and was considered the most mainstream of all heroin chic...

Notice that someone had to die before things turned around - the concept and the heroes were London-sourced, and with a couple of additions, they are all contracted by the "trendsetters" today..
Since the "players" are the same, one wonders if their attitudes have changed - or maybe they moved to other drugs...they still have one thing in common though - they don't like models in swimsuits...

The "heroin chic" debacle had more casualties - a few months later, in October 1997, Michael Flutie, who owned Company Management, sued one of his ex-models, Amy Wesson, for "...using so much cocaine and other drugs that she missed assignments and had to be propped up at fashion shoots.
A lawsuit and supporting affidavits, filed at Manhattan Supreme Court in New York, say the waif-like, 19-year-old model was so incapacitated by drugs that she would arrive six hours late for some jobs.
Her drug problem, the lawsuit claims, led to Vogue and Neiman Marcus cancelling assignments with the model, who was in Britain for London Fashion Week and who features in advertisements for Versace and Valentino
Amy had left Company and signed with Marilyn Models, who had just opened a NYC office. Her drug problems were known to everybody - but the "biz" got upset only when the photographers and editrixes were inconvinienced - although they seemed to have no problem "propping her up" to make the shoot. Flutie claimed he grabbed 16 yo Amy from a trailer park in Biloxie, Mississippi - she certainly didn't look like it, unlike most other US mods at the time. She was enormously popular in Europe, and was later the blonde in the top selling T. Mugler "Angel" perfume campaign - her work was ignored in NYC, where she was blacklisted by S Meisel and others and could get no jobs.
Amy was probably the last model who looked good in Versace - IMO, the best US model in the past ten years, despite her problems.


At 8/15/2005 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FV, in what sense, making "heroin chic" is worse than seeing every rock star taking drugs ?
I mean many great artists have taken drugs or alcohols for ages often in an artistic way.
What is the difference ? I'd like to have your "insider" - point of view ?


At 8/15/2005 7:26 PM, Blogger FV said...

The rock 'n' roll business doesn't employ teenage girls - plus fashion has nothing to do with art or artistic expression, real artists despise fashion people and regard them as trash

At 8/15/2005 9:06 PM, Anonymous Just Curious said...

FV, here is a non-insider theory on the subject:

The "heroin chic" look was probably so popular here in the States (at least in part) because most Americans are a little beyond a healthy weight...In other words, on the "plus" side of size measurements. Heroin chic was an American way of overcompensating for this fact. Now that heroine chic is so un-PC, the American clothing industry has opted for another way of selling clothes that won't be as demonized: "vanity sizing." Now, a size 2 is no longer a size's now a size 0 or less. ( whitford-vanitysizing)

Small girls like myself now skip size 0 whenever possible, and just hope a double-0 or (waist) size 24 will be small enough!!

At 8/15/2005 9:37 PM, Anonymous fis said...

Take this for what it is worth... Amy Wesson was in the Hollywood Vogue Italia by Meisel some months back.

At 8/16/2005 3:36 AM, Blogger FV said...

Pregnant - and retired?

I don't remember her in any Vogue Italia editorials while she was modelling, after the drugs affair...and the fact that she was working in Europe shouldn't have been much of an obstacle, if Meisel wanted to hype her...

At 8/16/2005 3:43 AM, Blogger FV said...

"Heroin chic" was just a trend, like grunge but on a smaller scale-and the "waif" image is not promoted just by the fashion industry, cigarette companies advertised all the time about the benefit of "tall and slim"

If it had any popularity, it was because it took addvantage of the US propencity for hating "perfect women" and favoring the "next door girl" in advertising - a mentality that doesn't exist anywhere else in the world...

At 8/16/2005 5:54 AM, Anonymous R.C. said...

I remember those times, 1995-1997. I was 13, and used to read fashion magazines and all girls suddenly looked so horriblely sick..It was sad. I quitted reading many magazines for a short while. No more curvy Cindy and Claudia. I also started thinking i wasn't skinny enough during that time. What for? Anyways, i was a silly teen. Don't let myself be manipulated by such disturbing ideas anymore.

In fashion, it's nice to see a bit of everything. But it's not nice when the girls u see on vogue editorials and fashion campaigns aren't 'naturally' skinny. I hope this heroin look will never come back.


At 8/16/2005 8:11 AM, Blogger FV said...

I remember I was reading US Glamour at the time - the mods they were featuring had nothing in common with waifs of Vogue faces...
That was true also of Elle and almost all European magazines.

Even the waifs in Vogue and some British mags used were not that thin by today's standards - and they were usually conventionally pretty, but bland.

The bottom line is that all this "heroin chic" was a sideshow at the time - the mass media ignored high fashion waifs, and focused on glam supermodel types. After all, there were always "quirky" trends in fashion but most top models always looked a certain way - the "specialist" mods were represented by a few "edgy" agencies rather than the big ones, and had limited appeal, to a niche market.

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