Anna Wintour, Michael Kors and Natalia Vodianova on Weight and Wellness in the World of Fashion
Posted March 24, 2010on:
On March 22nd, the Harris Center for Education and Advocacy in Eating Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital organized its 2010 Annual Public Forum at Harvard Business School.
This year’s topic was focused on health and wellness in the world of fashion.
Dr. David Herzog, who managed eating disorders research for thirty years at MGH opened the Forum. He insisted on the importance of early intervention to cure individuals with eating disorders. As the moderator of a panel discussion entitled “The Beauty of Health: Resizing the Sample Size” hosted by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) on February 9, 2010, Dr Herzog found the discussion encouraging and hopes that this burning issue will be always more spoken of.
Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue, insisted on the fact that the CFDA’s health initiative created a public dialog. Among others, this initiative sets minimum age requirements and maximum working hours rules for models. Wintour made it a principle to choose healthy-looking model for Vogue. However, she underlined a main issue that editors are facing during fittings and photo shoots. Indeed, samples are almost always made on one size, the runway size. But the runway sizes are too small and thus healthy model at Vogue can’t fit most of the samples. It is a vicious circle that is accepting/encouraging underweighted models into the bad direction. Anna Wintour clearly supports the CFDA initiative and the idea that the sample size needs to be resized in a near future. Older, bigger models would then get the prestige that they lost to Hollywood celebrities back and become star models again. Wintour already noticed a slight change. Miuccia Prada chose Doutzen Kroes, a controversial model who was often said to be too fat, for her Fall 2010 runway show. Marc Jacobs chose Elle Macpherson, the super model of the 1990s, for his Louis Vuitton Fall 2010 show.
Michael Kors, then shared his experience of runway shows. He underlines that women who buy designer clothes are often over 30, that shows should adress real women again and that the visual has to match the reality. In the first and only achieved results of the discussion, Michael Kors stated that he will no longer book models under 16 and that girls under 18 should have adult supervision to support them. Kors put an emphasis on the responsibility of designers, editors, … so that “clothes (will still be) made to make you feel the best version of you“.
Natalia Vodianova then offered a testimony of her life as a model. As a victim of eating disorders herself, she thinks that recognizing the disease in the first sign of recovery. To help models, she encourages organizations or model agencies to provide information, to explain how the body reacts to food supply, to support and guide models to therapies, groups and psychological support.
Within the next three years and the new edition of the Harris Center Health Problem, the three pannelists agreed on the fact that the debate about health and fashion is very likely to accelerate.
Although very little concrete initiatives have risen during this Forum, the discussion clearly restated that the dialog about health in fashion is open for good. As part of the fashion industry, from now on, we are all aware of the issues on models’ health and of the consequences for all the people influenced by image they see from the fashion industry on a daily basis.