Thursday, February 12, 2009

New York Fashion Week - the 97% fat free version


Well the Fall/Winter 09/10 show season blasts off in 10 hours' time in New York, with a few shows around town, followed by the kickoff of the main Mercedes Benz Fashion Week event at Bryant Park on the morning of Friday 13th. But with big guns such as Vera Wang, Betsey Johnson and Donna Karan swapping tent shows for modest showroom presentations - and Halston announcing as late as yesterday that it is ditching even a presentation for an el cheapo video - even those who are showing are playing it lowkey. The guest list of the week's biggest show, Marc Jacobs, has been razored from 2000 to 700, with the afterparty, in addition to, frockwriter hears, the usually no-expense-spared staging, nixed altogether. Toni Maticesvki is the only Australian designer brave enough to show in this bleak economic climate. Those US retailers still standing, are cash-strapped. Chiconomics and Recessionista are the fashion buzzwords du jour. Hell, even the models are being offered half rates – at least, those who weren’t already being paid in "trade". Abbey Lee Kershaw will miss the New York leg because of a knee injury, leaving Myf Shepherd, Catherine McNeil and Stephanie Carta as the main Oz models in town. Carta was just nominated as one of New York magazine’s Top 10 models to watch at the event. But look, if they can't get full rates then at least the mods can benefit from the CFDA's new line of model health merch. Can't they?

The Council of Fashion Designers of America's model health initiative was launched in January 2007, in response to the 2006 deaths of two South American models from eating disorders.

This season the CFDA has launched a line of limited edition merchandise designed by American fashion names such as Karan and Michael Kors, all items from which incorporate the “health is beauty” mantra.

WWD got the scoop on the line in today's issue. Pictured above is a Michael Kors tote which sells for US$25 at Bryant Park. All proceeds will go back to the CFDA Foundation.

It is well worth pointing out that the CFDA model health initiative takes a softly-softly approach to the subject of model weight, instead of a more draconian position.

CFDA executive director Steven Kolb tells WWD today:

“I feel validated that the choices we made two years ago not to require Body Mass Index (BMI), doctors or a health certificate, and make it about education and awareness really resonated. There has definitely been a change.”

There sure has been a change, especially in the limbs of certain elite runway models, which appear to getting more twig-like by the season - not to mention those of some of the young women who so obsessively follow their careers. Some more high-profile than others.

These parties, and their professional entourages who appear to have turned a blind eye to the issue, really should get a grip. Because it ain't pretty.

Elite athletes are routinely subjected to drug testing.

It is however highly unlikely that we are ever likely to see this sort of procedure implemented in the fashion arena. At the very least, it would pose a logistical nightmare.

And yet frockwriter can't help thinking that backstage etc drug testing might well yield some fascinating results.


Paul said...

I take all my advice from things stencilled on tote bags. Next up: OXYGEN = BREATHING.

Chowder said...

I agree Patty, not enough changes..see my blog for a sad article about the health of Malin Ones, a catwalk star from last season...

Anna Wintour said...

The CFDA's approach to the issue of model weight is so spectacularly poor that it would probably look better for them if they did nothing at all. At least that way they wouldn't be drawing extra attention to their obvious "thin is in" policy. That being said, drug tests for models (or pretty much anyone actually), is an awful invasion of privacy, especially given that things like pain killers (for twisted ankles), and amphetamines (for ADD) read as a much greater crime than they are. I think London takes the best approach to the issue.

Anonymous said...

So Patty, 'in these tough economic times', it would be interesting to know which Australians are actually attending the FW09 RTW shows?

Will there be a drop off in PR/media attendance? Is Vogue flying couch?

Patty Huntington said...

thanks chowder for the malin ones headsup. nice blog BTW.

AW - yes i agree complicated, and as i suggested, a logistical nightmare in any event. there can be 30, sometimes more, models in each show. 12 shows a day. whether they were tested going into the season, i don't know. i just think it would be interesting to know how many are habitual users of diuretics and fat burners such as clenbuterol etc in order to stay thin. elite athletes also need painkillers, but drug testing is par for the course in their line of work.

last anon - i mentioned in that story about the lack of australian designers at this NYFW (linked on the toni maticevski sentence), that as far as i was aware no australian media reps were heading to NYFW. that was per one of the main PRs who would have been organising tickets for any australians (calvin klein). dont know if that situation has changed but i gather there are a few glossy mag people heading over to at least milan and paris. last week i heard that vogue might not be sending anyone at all to milan and paris this season. which would be a first. i guess we're about to find out. you're absolutely right. it is going to be very interesting to see which media outlets - and which retailers - send reps to the shows. and not just from australia. the vogue australia license is of course owned by news magazines, whose news corporation parent has just posted a shocking loss.

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