ONE of the biggest names in British fashion, Sir Paul Smith, has predicted the end of size 00 models as the weight debate continued to overshadow London Fashion Week.
Sir Paul said yesterday that he expected fuller figure models to return to the catwalk. “What I think might happen after what Madrid has started, is that the [casting] agencies, if they are clever, might start considering the idea of searching for girls that are a little bit bigger, maybe even just one size bigger,” he said. “That would change things in the future.”
Until then, he said, the “thin” culture perpetuated by talent scouts would prevent the return of size 12 to the big fashion shows. “You have got to do the job. You have to have girls who are tall, who are confident, and able to walk.”
There was little evidence of fuller-figure models at Sir Paul’s show at the Royal Horticultural Hall, in West London.
Striding down the catwalk to the sounds of Scissor Sisters, two dozen girls displayed an understated collection of oversized shirts and slouch trousers.
None was close to a size 12.
One observer said that the beautiful red silk leotard that triggered ripples of approval along the front rows would make the average woman resemble a professional wrestler.
Sir Paul said that he had selected his models from about 100 girls who had been cherrypicked from about 300 model cards submitted by agents.
Lesley Goring, who has picked models for designer Zandra Rhodes, thought a return to size 12 models was unlikely.“That just wouldn’t happen,” she said. “It would be ridiculous to say we’re going to have all size 14. It wouldn’t sell collections at this level.
“We put size 14, 16 models in collections that are designed for them at High Street and 12-plus shows. You cannot possibly do a designer catwalk show because the samples are all made for a size 10, and sometimes, for couture, even less.”
However, Ms Goring said that most designers preferred models who did not “look as if they have been dug up”. “There is thin, and there is thin thin. They don’t want a cadaver.”
Lauren Tempany is one of the models whose career is at the centre of the controversy. Fresh from a show for Allegra Hicks, she said that there should be more safeguards to prevent girls from starving themselves to get ahead.
“It’s about time,” said Tempany, who weighs 8½ stone and has a 25-inch waist. “I know when I was in Milan I could have been more successful if I had lost half a stone. I am lucky because I have a family and support and I don’t feel I need to do that to my health. But there are plenty girls, especially the ones from Eastern Europe whose families depend on them for money, who are more desperate. It depends on how much you want it.
“But there are many who want it badly, and if they do starve themselves, who is going to stop them? The casting agents and the bookers won’t.”
The Clothes Show Live, which has showcased the talents of Jodie Kidd and Naomi Campbell, announced yesterday that it would ban size 00 models from its show in December.
Gavin Brown, head of Haymarket Exhibitions, which organises the event, said: “Young girls and women come to The Clothes Show Live every year to be inspired by the latest looks and it is therefore vital that we ensure that the messages that we are sending them are the right ones.
“Girls do not need to be a size 00 to make it as a model, or look as good in the designs that grace the catwalk. To prove this, Clothes Show Live will see an array of gorgeous models take to our catwalks this December and none of them will be a 00 in size.”
Cheryl Hughes, who founded the first plus-size model agency in Britain 18 years ago, said: “I think it’s wrong to segregate sizes. Why not amalgamate them? The whole thing is out of our realm, and has nothing to do with the general public.”
Ms Hughes said that sizing in the fashion industry was now so extreme that one of her size 12 models girls had fallen into the plus-size category, cutting down her chances of appearing on the catwalk for major designers.
“I would pose the question of how much better could designers do if they were to open their minds, and take the blinkers off by using bigger girls. It only needs one and the rest will follow. But which one will be first?”