The Not-So-Glamourous Reality

Behind the glossy pages, billboards and fashion weeks, a darker reality lies beneath the glamourous exterior. It’s no surprise that back lash has resulted from years and years of abusing this illusion within the industry. These bad behaviors have led to the encouragement of eating disorders, sexual abuse and disregard of labor laws. Of course, it’s understandable that designers want to find a model that will portray their collection in the best light, but that’s no excuse for the consequences that have come of these actions.

Picture Me 516lr4gQfiLis an eye-opening documentary directed by Sara Ziff, a successful veteran model, and her boyfriend, Ole Schell. It starts out by explaining the basics of the industry and shows how Sara started her prosperous career at the age of 18. At first glance, Sara’s life is the epitome of glamour: jet setting to Paris, walking in shows like Chanel, seeing her billboards line the streets and cashing checks a size that some of us may never see in our lives. As time progresses and Sara meets more and more models, their struggles become more apparent. The documentary introduces us to models across the globe who have come face to face with this harsh reality of the modeling industry.

Since this documentary aired in 2009, there definitely have been improvements within the fashion industry as a whole. In 2015, Paris Fashion Week declared that all models must be of a healthy BMI to participate. Fashion weeks across the globe have slowly followed suit. There has also been an increase in diversity, especially in New York. This season of NYFW featured the most models of plus sizes, ages above 50 and transgender. Even 31.5% of models were of color. Designers, like Christian Siriano, Marc Jacobs and Brandon Maxwell, casted models in a variety of ethnicities, ages and sizes. Another trend setter has been Aerie. 56df40e41500002a000b16a1Their #AerieReal campaigns have received much positive recognition from consumers. They include models of all kinds without the use of retouching. Consumers were so adamant about these changes that Aerie saw a 20% increase in sales during its initial launch in 2015. These are feats in the right direction for the fashion industry, but they are only baby steps in the larger scheme.
Sara Ziff has also founded The Model Alliance to help combat these changes. As models do not have access to a union as other performers, such as actors with SAG, The Model Alliance was created as a volunteer-run advocacy group for American models. Their goal is to ensure long lasting change in labor standards, financial transparency, affordable health care and set an industry standard code of conduct. These changes will not only directly benefit the models but create more ethical work environment for all and set a better example to the many who admire the fashion industry. 
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NYFW Makes a Statement

New York Fashion Week is always about making a statement- but this season went past just a daring fashion choice. The fashion industry reaches nearly every person on the planet (well besides nudists), so why not use such a powerful platform for the greater good?

Designers and influencers took note of this for NYFW AW17 to make a statement to society: whether it was about human rights, feminism or diversity. This season was host to the most models of plus sizes, ages above 50, and transgender. Even 30.3% of the models were of color. The CFDA set the tone before the week started by giving away pins saying “Fashion Stands with Planned Parenthood” to industry leaders and attendees to provide support and education on the benefits of Planned Parenthood. Mara Hoffman even invited the leaders of the Women’s March to speak prior to her show.

As the week continued, designers used their platforms to spread positive messages in their own unique ways. Christian Siriano, Prabal Gurung, and Jonathan Simkhai still featured gorgeous garments as well as groundbreaking slogan tees. The influence of the 1970’s was still prevalent this season with the use of extravagant furs, bold colors and meticulous detailing. Christian Siriano and Prabal Gurung closed their shows with slogan tees that left a statement in the mind of the attendees. “People are People” was the stand out at Christian Siriano while Prabal Gurung had an array like “Revolution Has No Borders” and “I Am an Immigrant”. Jonathan Simkhai highlighted his beautiful designs on the runway, but attendees left with t-shirts that said “Feminist AF”.

Another common theme was drawn from patriotism. Designers like Coach, Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs all drew inspiration from America. Coach and Marc Jacobs both channeled the old school, New York hip hop scene for their collections. Coach even took it a step further by combining influences of the wild west in the garments as well as using a prairie as the runway. Raf Simons utilized the classic red, white and blue for his runway debut for Calvin Klein. His statement was less obvious but still effective as he closed his show with David Bowie’s “This is Not America”.
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