CFDA “Cop-out” Over Thin Model Controversy

Diane Von Furstenberg, facing her first major issue since assuming the role as the new president of the CFDA issued the following statement regarding the “too thin model controversy”: “It is important as a fashion industry to show our interest and see what we can do because we are in the business of image…But I feel like we should promote health as a part of beauty rather than setting rules.”

So, after a meeting with industry leaders that included Anna Wintour and several members of her staff (what happened to representatives of other major fashion publications?), health professionals including a nutritionist, psychiatrist, physical trainer, model agency booker and a representative from the pr firm KCD, the best this group could come up were some non-binding “guidelines” for designers that included providing more nutritious food backstage at fashion shows, scheduling fittings earlier in the day for young models, and encouraging them to get more sleep?

The CFDA recommendations fell far short of Madrid’s banning models who have a body mass index of less than 18 and the recent “manifesto” by the Italian Chamber of Fashion that proposed models should hold a license issued by a panel of health experts and city officials attesting that they are in good health. And Didier Grumbach, president of the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture, has indicated that he plans no action regarding regulating the weight of models.

Perhaps the best way to approach the issue is to take the decision away from the designers who have neither the training or time to enforce standards and put it in the hands of the doctors? Why not require all models to have a recent certificate (say no more than a month before NY shows) from a doctor stating that he or she is in good health? Certainly most designers, the CFDA and even 7th on Sixth could mutually agree to enforce this minimum requirement?

-Ernest Schmatolla

(For more on the “too thin model” controversy, check out Eric Wilson’s article section C page 2 in today’s The New York Times)



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

1 Comment
  1. That’s a great question… who should regulate? Who has the right incentives? Very tricky because while there is a very small circle of people involved in fashion shows(models, designers, etc) the consequences are broadreaching, affecting not only the models who walk but the thousands who aspire to walk. What sacrifices, if any, are the high players of fashion willing to make to alleviate the pressure on young girls in Arkansas to be thin? It is especially hard because unlike waists and hips, there is no way to measure how much of a difference these sacrifices will make… Good post!

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