Does ANYONE think this is a good look? Gaunt model shocks at Milan fashion show

By Deborah Gentile

Emperor's New Clothes? Did anyone at last night's Gianfranco Ferré fashion show in Milan think this model looked good, or aspirational?

Hollow-eyed and gaunt, the skeletal model stalked down the runway at the Gianfranco Ferré fashion show in Milan last night wearing a dress cut in a deep V that revealed her protruding clavicle and flat chest.

A flurry of flashbulbs popped as photographers vied to get the best shot and the line of fashion editors sitting front row scribbled furiously on their notepads.

If ever there were a case of Emperor's New Clothes at fashion week, it was here.

Did any one of the assembled crowd really think this model - bony cleavage, dark circled eyes - looked good? Could they genuinely say that this image was aspirational? And ultimately, would the model do what must be her main purpose here: sell these clothes to other women?

The answer to all of the above should surely be a firm no. But the designers' decision to use such dramatically thin models - and to accentuate their emaciated looks with the use of revealing clothing and dark make-up - suggests the powers that be within the fashion industry think otherwise.

As debate rages on about the irresponsible use of underweight models in fashion shows, it seems the designers themselves - those with the power to evoke change - are just not listening.

In 2006 Milan formally barred ultra-skinny models from catwalk shows as the fashion world came under pressure to promote a healthier body image.

The agreement signed between the city and its powerful fashion industry banned models with a body mass index of less than 18.5 from Milan’s shows.

The accord included the introduction of courses on healthy eating and exercise and called for a variety of clothing sizes in shows.

The Gianfranco Ferré show last night brought to an end a week of shows in the Italian capital

Realistically, four years on, it is very unlikely these measures are being adhered to.

It is, say insiders, just too difficult to enforce.

Pressure from the high profile designers in New York, Paris and Milan prevents change, they say, because the designers ignore requests not to use underweight or underage girls.

There is, however, a small number that are taking the first steps towards promoting a healthier image on the catwalk.

London-based knitwear designer Mark Fast has for the past few seasons used size 12 and 14 models in his catwalk shows.

Prada, Versace and Armani agreed to ban the use of size zero models - an important step for such heavyweight names.

But are these small measures enough?

Emma Bugg, spokesperson for anorexic support charity Beat, says much more can be done.

While Bugg maintains it is important to remember that we do come in all shapes and sizes including the naturally slender, she warns that ultra-skinny models could have a negative impact on women's self-image.

'Beauty comes in all forms and it is disappointing that models who reflect the diversity of our population are not always employed at such events,' she said today.

'We believe that a range of factors, including pressures exerted by society, can have an influence on how both men and women perceive themselves.

'Fashion is bold, new, creative, and different so why are many designers not using a range of models which would enhance these characteristics too?

'We do know that some agencies are broadening the range of models they hold on their books, and we certainly welcome this approach, but much more could still be done.'

At the time the Milan law was being discussed, Mario Boselli, the head of Italy’s National Fashion Chamber, said that only 'maybe one girl in a hundred' of the models on show could be defined as too skinny.
Now, that number is surely much higher.

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