The ground zero of Size Zero is here. Alexandra Shulman, the editor of British Vogue, called out a bunch of prominent fashion designers for encouraging Size Zero models. In a strongly-worded letter to them, she wrote:
"We have now reached the point where many of the sample sizes don't comfortably fit the established star models." She also noted the trends of "jutting bones and no breasts or hips" and the pressure for these things that stem from the "minuscule" pieces of clothing frequently given to the waif-like (wafer-thin?) women at the photo shoots peppering Shulman's magazine, be it on the editorial or advertising sides. The one wonderful part about all of this is when she notes that Vogue has recently been re-touching models to make them bigger. Nice!
But really: bullshit. Or it is without at least some form of a mea culpa.
Granted, Shulman's been progressive in calling out this - fashion's frightening Thinner problem - as well as cosmetic surgery, among other body-conscious stances the fashion community and the rest of the world have (long before her) been buzzing about at large.
But it's not like she's the first one to tell people: (A) you're too thin and (B) you shouldn't rearrange your face, it might not turn out well. And while she never openly encouraged the practice, her tenure at Vogue will probably always be most well known for the rise of Kate Moss and 'Heroin Chic,' the (again, never explicit) idea being that the models are so thin they look like they're on heroin. Fashion simply couldn't have gotten to the place it has without Shulman's knowing participation. Not being a fashion guy myself, but isn't that the name of the game? Calling out that which came before as utterly passe - especially if you're in control of it - in lieu of "reinventing" or whatever the hell fashion people do? It's a smart move on her part, and the public opinion shaping around it, if internet comments are to be taken as "public opinion," is sadly taking Shulman's backpeddling at face value. A Times Online reader chimes in:
This is a remarkable stand against size 0 by the most remarkable lady. What doubles my respect for Alexandra Shulman in the fashion industry is that she is speaking out against lucrative advertisers in Vogue in a time of great recession. What a wonderful stand from a true fashion icon for the UK!
So now she's calling out designers, and there's a decent list of them: "Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano and fellow designers at Prada, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and other top fashion houses," notes the The Times. Supermodel Erin O'Connor:
"The fact that Alexandra Shulman with her enormous influence has opened this conversation means that it will have a huge impact," she said. "It has . . . made it compulsorily relevant that we address this now."
The designers Shulman's lambasting aren't too amused, though the Guardian did manage to round up a few opinions on the matter, many of whom are probably too scared of Shulman to say what they're actually feeling, are going to toss the blame anywhere they can that isn't Vogue's direction. Take, for example, the designer of sexy panties-wear Agent Provocateur:
Sarah Shotton, head designer for Agent Provocateur, said that while it wanted bigger girls, the model agencies sent "girls so thin we have to ask them to leave. I actually think it has got worse since they started talking about skinny models a few years ago," Shotton added.
See? Hopefully Lagerfeld, who's clearly not afraid to talk some shit, will step up and assign some of the blame where it legitimately belongs: with Shulman and Vogue, who pride themselves on setting the bar for fashion each season.
How was this problem not in their control before? And why couldn't Shulman extend her influence privately? She could've had conversations with these designers, who she can probably call up to her office whenever, rather than a poorly guarded, "leaked" letter. One aimed at winning a populism vote from an economically distressed public. Who could care less about fashion right now. Really, it's a brilliant play.