'Character' and 'personality' aren't the first words that spring to mind when qualifying the success of a model, though this was contested on Crane.tv's recent visit to the Premier Model Management office the agency's founder Carole White. As a feared force behind the fashion industry -- known for "discovering" Naomi Campbell -- White talks of the continually changing ideals of 'beauty' since she started managing girls in the early 1980s. An outspoken figure of authority, she has raised the issue of what is an acceptable age to start a modelling career (16 she says), in a world where 13-year olds are routinely seen on the runways, "unfortunately some designers think it is their right to use that look," she says.
The high street's growing demand for 'bigger' girls and the media's vilification of those that are too 'skinny,' may be a step towards quelling the exploitation of young women. The size zero debate will prevail as designers seasonally sell 'a dream,' but the industry can change to better protect their child models and maybe even start to address whether what is being represented is healthy for both subject and audience -- rather than just serving the existing market.
White's commentary of the state of the industry is not limited to size but also colour. She is well-versed when it comes to the "demands of perfection" in black models, "editors have it in their heads that black girls don't sell." This is hardly a surprise coming from a campaigner against discrimination in fashion, who through experience also understands the pragmatism towards looks that 'sell better' in times of recession: how a new black model would take longer to establish than a white girl.
With the next round of Fashion Weeks fast approaching, all eyes will revert back to the runways of London, Paris, New York and Milan and the debates will surely continue with White shaping the way, we think for the better.
Text by Carmen Ho for Crane.tv
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