Berlin Fashion Week ignores charter against skinny models

Berlin Fashion Week ignores charter against skinny models
Dirk Schoenberger with Joop! Jeans show during Berlin Fashion Week. Photo: DPA
German fashion labels during Berlin Fashion Week aren't paying attention to Health Minister Ulla Schmidt's proposal to prevent underfed models from working, according to casting agent sources in the city's fashion industry.

“We don’t know anything about it,” the source told German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Friday. “We’re looking for the girls the same as we always have.”

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Another source said Berlin Fashion Week sponsor IMG didn’t learn of Schmidt’s voluntary agreement for industry professionals until Wednesday, the day before the event kicked off.

According to the agreement, signed last Friday by German fashion industry representatives and sponsored by Health Minister Schmmidt, über-thin models will have no place on the runways or in ads of German fashion houses. The charter requires that models in ads and fashion shows have a body-mass-index of at least 18.5 – a European dress size 36 – and be 16 years old.

“We want to take a clear stand against an unhealthy body image,“ Schmidt said last week.

The agreement was signed by fashion trade fair organizer Igedo, the industry federation German Fashion, the German Fashion Institute and the Velma federation of licenced modelling agencies.

While the agreement in Germany does not require a doctor’s certificate, as a similar charter in the UK does, Schmidt called it a “milestone“ in the fight against eating disorders. She said she hopes other sectors, such as the advertising industry, will sign on to the agreement, and that it could be the foundation for a Europe-wide charter.

But the charter has apparently not influenced Berlin Fashion Week participants at all. “When in doubt the girls lie about their age anyway,” the casting source told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, adding that most of the designers don’t pay much attention to the health of their models.