A size 2 model was told to consume only water for 24 hours before a Louis Vuitton show
Danish model Ulrikke Louise Lahn Høyer was asked to stay on a water-only diet for an entire day to cure her of her ‘bloated face and stomach’ before a Louis Vuitton fashion show in Kyoto,Japan.Updated: Jun 28, 2017 07:47 IST
A model who was told to drink only water for 24 hours before a Louis Vuitton show before having her appearance cancelled has hit out at the treatment that she and others in the industry face. Ulrikke Louise Lahn Høyer, a 20-year-old model from Denmark, who is a US size 2 or UK size 6, was allegedly sent home from the Louis Vuitton Cruise show in Kyoto last week after a fitting.
Writing an open letter on Facebook, the Danish model and current face of Chloé described how the show’s casting agent told Hoyer’s agent: “Ulrikke needs to drink only water for the next 24 hours.” Described as having “a very bloated stomach” and “bloated face”, she was sent home from Kyoto.
Høyer is the current face of Chloé’s S/S 17 campaign, has been photographed by Tim Walker and David Sims and has been on the catwalk for Stella McCartney, Marchesa and Oscar de la Renta.
She described the standards models are held to as “completely unattainable and directly damaging to the human body … Many of the girls don’t have their periods, and/or [have] changes the colour of their skin because of bad and incorrect nutrition, and almost everyone [has] a completely distorted relationship with food.”
She added: “What should have been a truly amazing and unique experience ended up being a very humiliating experience.” Louis Vuitton has declined to comment.
As Høyer admits in her post, cancellations are expected. But the verbal shaming, and what she describes as a “lack of respect and decency”, suggest a new low in industry standards, echoing industry watchdog James Scully , who said in a talk in December that the industry was in danger of treating models “like Tinder swipes”.
The responsibility of models’ welfare traditionally falls with the casting agent, who chooses the models, oversees the fittings and is responsible for the models during the show.
Scully, a casting director and former booking agent for Harper’s Bazaar, became a whistleblower earlier this year when he used social media to shine a spotlight on the mistreatment of models at Balenciaga’s autumn/winter show, which subjected 150 models to “sadistic and cruel” treatment. The label sacked its casting agency.
The incident comes in the midst of a sea change surrounding mistreatment. Some changes have been clearer than others. Days before Emmanuel Macron won the presidential election , two new French laws were passed, and from this October excessively thin models will be required to provide medical certificates proving they are healthy for work .
Many other countries, including India and Israel, have implemented measures to promote wellbeing within the industry, and the Council of Fashion Designers of America has guidelines for its members. Pressure is growing to administer the same practice in the UK .
It is hoped that “model confessionals” like Høyer’s will help change industry practices, which up until fairly recently were only lightly regulated.
Charlie Howard is a 26-year-old plus-size model who appeared in Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar. She left mainstream modelling after being dropped by her agency a few years ago. Then a size 6, she recalls how after stepping off the Eurostar in Paris for a casting, she was told by her French agency to lose two inches from her waist in a week, and encouraged to walk and run everywhere. She went on to develop an eating disorder before leaving her agency, going up to a size 10, and joining a plus-size agency, Muse, in New York.
Howard has since set up the All Woman Project , a campaign group for diverse, unretouched images. “If only the fashion industry could grasp that making clothes that are representative of all women was a positive thing,” she said. Speaking about Høyer’s experience, she said: “It should be about clothes that fit the model, not the model fitting the clothes.” She adds: “I’m a size 10 and it’s crazy that I’m plus-size, but here we are.”
She describes the “advice” given by casting agents as akin to an unspoken order: “It’s rare for people to actually tell you not to eat, but it’s implied when they say you are the wrong size or that you need to lose a few inches.”
According to Howard, in order to gain traction, models usually require the backing of their agency – in the case of Høyer, her Danish agency requested evidence for the cancellation – or a reasonable level of fame. When British model Jourdan Dunn spoke out against Dior – the model was reportedly dropped for having “boobs” – and later, Victoria’s Secret (she nicknamed the underwear line VS as “BS” ), the model was praised for using her fame to criticise players within the industry. But it wasn’t until recently that Karen Elson, a cover star, told Women’s Wear Daily about being cancelled earlier in her career: “I’m just going to say this: I was in New York fashion week and I got cancelled from a fashion show. It was something to do with body stuff,” she said.
“The higher the brand, the stricter the requirements,” says Howard, talking about Høyer’s alleged experience with Louis Vuitton. “But there is a belief that you either moan or accept it, and if you don’t accept it, there is always someone behind you who will.” Speaking out can “absolutely” damage your career, she says.
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First Published: May 20, 2017 15:28 IST