Fashion police to tackle health and drugs on catwalk

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					Fashion police to tackle health and
drugs on catwalk
London Fashion Week, which opens today, calls in folk in dark suits. By
Jonathan Owen and Susie Mesure
A team from the world's biggest accountancy firm has been handed access-all-areas
backstage passes and instructed to ferret out any illicit behaviour, such as drug use,
as part of a drive to have a "healthy backstage environment".

The officials will also carry out random checks on 10 per cent of shows on the
schedule to check model agencies stick to rules from the British Fashion Council
stating that the use of models under the age of 16 is banned.

The drastic step to bring in auditors comes amid mounting fears over the health of
young models – many of whom appear to be unnaturally underweight. The move is
an attempt to address some of the concerns highlighted by last year's Model Health
Inquiry chaired by Baroness Kingsmill.

A BFC spokesperson said: "All the designers who show on schedule in London have it
built into their contracts that all their models must be over 16 years old. If they
break their contract they will be excluded next season and all the London agencies
are aware of this."

Although eating disorder campaigners have criticised the BFC for being too slow to
implement proposals made by the inquiry, the council claims it is making "substantial

The main problem is that the fashion industry does not believe it is guilty of the
charges laid at its door. Research this weekend revealed that just 12 per cent of
fashion insiders believe that models are too skinny and a mere 20 per cent felt
models are too young. The report, by Allegra Strategies, quizzed senior industry
executives, designers, stylists and creative directors.

Hilary Riva, BFC chief executive, warned that a proposed scheme of health
certificates for models will need international backing to work. But Susan Ringwood,
chief executive of beat, the national eating disorders charity, said: "I think the
inspiration for London Fashion Week comes from young people and so I think the
health and wellbeing of young people should take precedence over ill-founded fears
that people will somehow stop coming to London Fashion Week if it raises the
standards of health and safety."

London Fashion Week will showcase eco-labels at a concurrent exhibition in an
attempt to gain brownie points. However, the Allegra report revealed that four-fifths
of fashion insiders felt that their customers were just not bothered about
environmental or ethical concerns.

The Independent on Sunday
Sunday, 10 February 2008

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