One of the main backers of London Fashion Week, Marks & Spencer, has rejected calls for restrictions on the size of catwalk models, saying it was for designers to decide the type of models they wanted. With the capital gearing up for an annual week of high fashion and celebrity and the debate raging about whether ‘super-thin’ models should be banned because of the message they send to young girls, Stuart Rose said people had to be given creative freedom.
His interjection comes after the mayor of Milan said that she would be seeking to ban women with a body mass index of less than 18, a figure which is considered to be officially underweight. She was following the lead of the Spanish, who recently introduced restrictions on models for the Madrid fashion show. The British Fashion Council, of which Rose is the chairman, has already rejected any restrictions.
‘It is not a question about size specifically,’ Rose said. ‘It is question about health.’ He argued that the mayor of Madrid may have overreacted, and that this was not an appropriate area of the business for legislation or bringing in external restrictions. ‘I am very wary of knee-jerk reactions. There is a debate, of course, just as there is at the moment about obesity, but the designers are not uncaring and we have to leave it to their own common sense. Nobody would want to use a model who was unhealthy. I would say there has been a bit of a over-reaction.’
As the leading agencies in the capital nominate hundreds of slim young models for hectic final casting sessions for the week ahead, many of the designers are happy to back the British Fashion Council’s view that no one should meddle with the process of organising a show.
This year’s London Fashion Week has been revived by its Marks & Spencer sponsorship. The high-street commercial giant has provided the cash to pay for a series of top name models to promote and appear at the shows. Chief of these is the lofty and super-slim Erin O’Connor, best known for her part in the latest successful M&S advertising campaign.
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