balenciaga condemns model mistreatment as industry figures speak out
The French house has dropped the casting agency implicated in ‘sadistic and cruel’ treatment of models, as top industry names break culture of silence to speak out.
High-profile fashion industry figures — including supermodels Helena Christensen, Alana Zimmer, Joan Smalls, Jacquelyn Jablonski, and Edie Campbell; creative movement director Stephen Galloway; and makeup artist Kay Montano — have rallied around top casting director James Scully after he spoke out about the 'cruel and sadistic' mistreatment of models at this season's Balenciaga casting in Paris.
Yesterday morning, Scully published a lengthy post on Instagram detailing multiple reports of 150 models being kept in a cramped stairwell with the lights off for hours by the casting directors, identified in the post as Maida and Rami (known industry shorthand for Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes). Balenciaga has issued a statement acknowledging and condemning the incident, and confirm that it has discontinued its relationship with the casting directors.
Statement from Balenciaga in full:
"On Sunday, February 26th Balenciaga took notice of issues with the model castings carried out on that day. The House reacted immediately, making radical changes to the casting process, including discontinuing the relationship with the current casting agency.
Additionally, Balenciaga sent a written apology to the agencies of the models who were affected by this specific situation, asking them to share it with them.
Balenciaga condemns this incident and will continue to be deeply committed to ensure the most respectful working conditions for the models."
Iconic model Helena Christensen commented on James Scully's post to say, "Thank you for sharing! This is important. People can be such scumbags, selfish, arrogant and pathetic. Keep sharing, girls and keep raising awareness." Joan Smalls wrote, "Preach. Also you should be casting more just to bring more justice and equality to this industry," a reference to Scully's reputation for promoting diversity in fashion. Alana Zimmer added, "Thank you James, for speaking up about something that has gone on for far too long ❤". Hilary Rhoda said, "Love you James! You have ALWAYS done the right thing and that always stuck out in my mind about you. You've always been so kind, loving, respectful, and inclusive ❤ so thank you for that."
Brit model Edie Campbell regrammed the image Scully used, writing "Thank you to @jamespscully for calling out those people within the fashion industry who abuse their positions of power. And this is also a thankyou to all those who choose NOT to demean, mistreat, or belittle models, assistants, or interns". i-D cover star Dilone wrote, "You mean the world to us! Thank you so much," while Greta Varlese commented, "A thank you is not enough x". Hollie May Saker wrote "You are our voice, our hero ❤", and Martha Hunt added "Love you @jamespscully." Messages of thanks were also left by models Siouxsie Leenaars, Lida Fox, Julie Hoomans, Ari Westphal, Nimue Smit, Katie Moore, Ali Michael, and Julia Stegner.
Antoine Arnault, son of LVMH boss Bernard Arnault and CEO of Berluti, commented, "If you hear about anything like this happening in our houses please contact me directly @berluti." Alexis Alex Borges, President of Next Models LA, wrote, "Thank you so much James! Respect !", and makeup artist Kay Montano commented, "Well done for speaking out, the high fashion biz is the worst for people 'looking the other way' about all of this and much more." Other industry names voicing their support include the Streeters makeup artist Mark Carrasquillo, Tiphaine de Lussy (textile designer and partner of Dinos Chapman), stylist Lori Goldstein, and Paper Editorial Director Mickey Boardman.
It is clear that Scully's post has broken through a wider culture of silence on the mistreatment of models in the fashion industry, with many commenters noting that this incident isn't particularly unique, though it is extreme. i-D hopes that as an industry we can continue to support those who bravely speak out when they experience or witness the mistreatment of models, interns, or anyone else, and that we can make the industry a safer, kinder, and more accepting place for all.
i-D contacted Creative Exchange Agency, which represents Maida Boina, on Tuesday, February 28, but have not received a response.
Text Charlotte Gush