Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

FASHION'S BIG PLAYERS HAVE POWER TO BOYCOTT SUPER SKINNY MODELS-BUT WILL THEY? NO COMMENT; the Size Zero Debate

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

FASHION'S BIG PLAYERS HAVE POWER TO BOYCOTT SUPER SKINNY MODELS-BUT WILL THEY? NO COMMENT; the Size Zero Debate

Article excerpt

Byline: BELLA BLISSETT

THIS week the Evening Standard spearheaded a campaign to banish so-called size zero (UK size 4) models from British catwalks. After the death of 22-year-old Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos, super-thin models were banned from Madrid fashion shows.

But organisers at London Fashion Week have continued to resist pressure to follow suit.

As the fashion week comes to a close, we tracked down the people with the power the editors, journalists and stylists who frequent the front rows - to find out what they would be doing to prevent a similar tragedy occurring at the hands of the British fashion industry.

For people who usually have a lot to say about their subject, most of this group are surprisingly quiet when it comes to the issue of skinny models. In fact, their silence is deafening.

When asked if they supported designer Paul Smith's call for a ban on emaciated models, reactions ranged from "no comment" to outward aggression.

Some were clearly apathetic - for them the subject is a bore. But while some complained that the fashion industry was merely a scapegoat for the eating-disorder debate, some were forced to admit that the warped body ideals it holds up have conditioned us to accept dangerously low-weight models.

One fashion editor willing to break ranks was Lisa Armstrong from The Times, who is also on the press committee of the British Fashion Council. She says: "I've always avoided using models who look ill and underweight but I think there is a big distinction between a teenage girl who is naturally skinny like Lily Cole and one who starves herself."

"It is a complex debate - many publications thrive on endless pictures of underweight celebrities and we, the public, continue to buy them.

"I am not denying there are underweight models out there, but it is very hard to legislate against. If the BFC was to say no, the designers would just show off-schedule."

Jane Bruton, editor of Grazia magazine, also supports the promotion of healthier models on the catwalks. "It is certainly good to campaign like this," she says, "but I do think the whole issue is in danger of turning into a witch-hunt - I can understand why Lily Cole feels persecuted. The fact is that yes, some models look dangerously thin, but there are many more girls who are slender but healthy, and they shouldn't be vilified for it."

But Geordie Greig, editor of Tatler, voices the prevailing attitude: "I do not think that skinny models should be banned from the catwalk because having rules and regulations stifles choice. I think healthy-looking models produce healthy sales for fashion brands. …

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