Ex-Vogue Australia editor Kirstie Clements is no devil in Prada. At least that’s the idea perpetuated in her Daily Mail interview ahead of her book
The Vogue Exposé The Vogue Factor, which comes out this Thursday. She laughs, she speaks “humbly” and she grew up in the Sutherland Shire!
But Clements was still, as she admitted on Entertainment Tonight back in April, part of a “small pool of very influential people that dominate the fashion arena worldwide.” And since being unceremoniously fired from her post in May last year she’s not using the extra time to make casserole and watch Game of Thrones, instead penning the much-anticipated book stuffed with secrets from behind the doors of the leading Condé glossy.
And with the couture shows kicking off in Paris today, many of Clements’ claims against the industry are ringing all the louder. Much has already been said about the tissue-eating and the term ‘Paris thin’ being used to describe models who’d drop two dress sizes in order to be cast overseas. What’s scarier is how that filters down into magazine pages across all corners of the globe:
The ‘fit model’ begins the fashion process: designer outfits are created around a live, in-house skeleton. Very few designers have a curvy model. These collections are then sent to the runway, worn by tall, pin-thin models because that’s the way the designer wants to see the clothes fall. There will also be various casting directors and stylists involved, who have a vision of the type of women wearing these clothes. For some bizarre reason, it seems they prefer her to be young, coltish, six-foot tall and built like a prepubescent boy.
These are the samples we all work with and they are obviously the size of the model who wore them on the runway. Thus, a stylist must cast a model who will fit into these tiny sizes. And they have become smaller since the early noughties. We’ve had couture dresses arrive from Europe that are so minuscule they resemble christening robes. There are no bigger samples available, and the designer probably has no interest in seeing their clothes on larger women. Many high fashion labels are aghast at the idea of producing a size 14, and they certainly wouldn’t want to see it displayed in the pages of the glossies.
And what about the girls who can’t even diet away their curves?
Girls who can’t diet their breasts away will have surgical reductions. They then enter into dangerous patterns of behaviour that the industry — shockingly — begins to accept as par for the course.
Today Jourdan Dunn took to Twitter to explain why she’d be absent from the Dior couture runway: “Ahahahahahaha I just for cancelled from Dior because of my boobs! I❤ fashion #Couture“, she tweeted, before adding “I’m normally told I’m cancelled because I’m ‘coloured’ so being cancelled because off my boobs is a minor : )”. Sure, it’s probably worse that blatant racism comes with no Paula Deen-type vilification in the fashion world (let’s all weirdly hope that Dunn’s boobs were the reason she wasn’t allowed to walk) but it’s also frightening just how much like 12-year-old boys the industry wants us to look. At least Raf didn’t try to pay her in beer?
Clements’ other horror stories from her 13 years at the helm of Vogue include an Australian model who’s Paris flatmate was a fit model “so she’s in hospital on a drip a lot,” a US model with scabs on her knees from fainting on a daily basis, a Russian girl whose English was limited to “It’s not my job to eat,” and seeing the telltale signs of Anorexia constantly.
Granted there’s a lot of any of her claims do much to try and shift the blame from editors. It’s hard to portray larger sizes when you can’t get clothes to fit etc., etc. And Clements admits never actually having seen a model eat a tissue for lunch. But as the couture shows hit full swing there will no doubt be a few more wary pairs of eyes on the state of the models as there are on the clothes, which is probably a good thing.