As the caravan of buyers, media, PR and production types and yes, models, settles into its new home for the next five days – London Fashion Week – I couldn’t help having a chuckle at this item in today’s Guardian newspaper. Even if the author appears to have maintained a straight face whilst reporting.
Headlined “Model clears her cupboards to help her colleagues”, the story concerns tomorrow’s auction at Christie’s of designer clothes and handbags belonging to British supe Erin O’Connor.
O’Connor is auctioning 30 items that she has collected over the years. These apparently include some personal purchases, but also “many” gifts from designers with “various lots” marked in the catalogue as "Personal gifts from Karl Lagerfeld."
The reporter, Hadley Freeman, does not clarify whether these were genuine gifts – or in fact “trade”.
The latter is the process via which some, if not many, designers pay their runway models. Or at least those up-and-comers who would give their right arms for the exposure afforded by certain runway gigs. Frockwriter touched on it last week when talking about the blog of Canadian model Simona McIntyre.
Instead of ponying up cash, designers offer their ponywalkers old stock – and if we are to believe McIntyre and indeed others, the models are lucky if they get “paid” before the next season.
Considering that 30 year-old O’Connor, a current face of Marks & Spencer, was ranked Britain’s 39th richest person aged 30 or under by The Sunday Times in 2007 with an estimated wealth of £12million, evidently someone, somewhere, has been paying her.
Proceeds from O’Connor’s cupboard clearout will go to the British Fashion Council to help young designers, as well as her now three seasons-old Model Sanctuary initiative, which is described as:
“a quiet room in central London where models can eat healthily and rest between shows. They also get nutritional advice, cooking lessons and help from specialist counsellors if requested”.
But at least someone is looking out for the models' health in London.
O'Connor, who sits on the board of the British Fashion Council, tells the Guardian that she recommended the under-16 ban which was implemented at the event this time last year.
However in spite of other recommendations laid down by the BFC's Model Health Enquiry, which was established in March last year, last month the organisation scrapped plans to impose mandatory health checks on models at the event – because the idea was shot down in flames by fashion week organisers in New York, Paris and Milan.