The Business of Modeling: Essential Tips For a Successful Career
Inside The Modeling Industry: A Conversation About Health And Beauty In Fashion
Registration for this event is full. More information on the live webcast here.
Violations En Vogue?
Model Lounge: The Business of Modeling
The Model Alliance is teaming up with Model Lounge to share business tips that every successful model should know. Supermodel Coco Rocha, law professor Doreen Small and Model Alliance Director Sara Ziff will host the event. Model Lounge is an exclusive retreat for female fashion models at invited top 10 modeling agencies. This event is for female models only and it is not open to the public.
Fashion Law Institute Second Annual Symposium
The Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University gathered hundreds of legal experts, fashion industry stakeholders, designers, and lawyers of the future to discuss everything from the impacts of emerging economies on global trade to the future of intellectual property enforcement. There to talk about advertising, Photoshop, labor issues, false claims, and public health were community organizer Seth Matlins, photographer Adam Katz Sinding, computer scientist and Photoshop expert Eric Kee, law professor Barbara Pozzo, lawyer Annie M. Ugurlayan, and Model Alliance founder Sara Ziff.
Matlins, the founder of body-positive organization Off Our Chests, kicked things off with a call-to-arms against the advertising industry for promoting negative self esteem among (particularly) young girls and women. Matlins even raised the possibility of consumers suing brands that foster an unhealthy body image via their advertising, comparing the advertising industry to the National Football Association, which has been the targets of hundreds of lawsuits over head injuries. If the NHL bears a responsibility for players’ head injuries, asked Matlins, “what are the responsibilities of the fashion and beauty industries to their consumers?”
In Italy, explained the University of Milan’s Barbara Pozzo, advertising is strictly regulated because it is understood to be a form of communication that depends on access to public spaces and airwaves, and should therefore conform to commonly held norms. There are 49 separate provisions governing advertising, and special oversight is directed towards ads that target vulnerable groups like children. Ads have to be truthful, they have to not encourage violent or dangerous behaviors, and they also must adhere to more nebulous conditions — like respecting “human dignity,” and avoiding “vulgarity.” Professor Pozzo showed numerous examples of fashion ads that had been banned in Italy, including several high-fashion ads that sexualized violence against women.
In the U.S., explained Ugurlayan, the law holds that advertising claims must be truthful — and that claims are not exclusively verbal. (A photo of a model with eerily smooth skin, in an ad for wrinkle cream, is making a claim about the advertised product’s effectiveness.) She also added that disclaimers — the tiny print that reads “Lashes enhanced in post-production” on a mascara ad — are no defense against making false claims.
Sinding said that in his work as a photographer and occasional retoucher, his clients often send images back for more edits, and that the cumulative effect of several rounds of changes can lead to an increasingly unrealistic end product. After making minor edits to a batch of images for a major fashion client he declined to name, Sinding says he got the feedback, “Don’t you think it’s distracting that her thighs are touching?” So he had to further whittle away the model’s body. Sinding also said that in shooting street style photos for major publications he has learned that photos of models and thin people are easier to sell, regardless of how the subject is dressed, than photos of even particularly well-dressed people who happen to be shorter or fatter than models.
Recent Model Alliance interviewee Eric Kee Skyped into the symposium to talk about the technology he helped develop to rate images on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being relatively little altered and 5 being significantly ‘shopped.
Ziff put the issue of advertising regulation and the use of Photoshop into the context of models’ overall lack of empowerment within the industry. She also pointed out that the issue of body image is often covered in a way that focuses on the effects of fashion ads on women in general — but rarely examines the effects on the models who have to live up to the industry’s standards. “There’s a public health issue,” said Ziff, that gets a lot of ink, “but there’s also a labor issue.” Models have died of eating disorders, and the risk of entering recovery and seeing one’s work dry up is very real. Even high-profile models, meanwhile, have been Photoshopped after the fact by clients seeking to misrepresent their bodies (like Crystal Renn, who was Photoshopped down to a size 0, and Irina Shayk, who with the help of Photoshop had a lingerie shoot for Spanish GQ turn into a nude shoot). The fact that such misrepresentation happens to girls with industry clout shows how hard it is for younger, less-established models to have a say in how their photos are ultimately published.
— By Jenna Sauers
April 25, 2012
Model Alliance Launch
On Monday February 6th, The Model Alliance was officially launched! Hosted by the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University and Coco Rocha, the event was held at the Standard Hotel, perched above the Hudson River at dusk. Founders Sara Ziff and Jenna Sauers found themselves surrounded by hundreds of colleagues from within the fashion industry. Famous faces Doutzen Kroes, Anna de Rijk and Crystal Renn showed their support and watched as the Model Alliance’s first campaign video — produced with help from Bunker Media, B2Pro, and with original music by John Forté of Fugees fame — rolled on the big screen.
The crowd listened attentively as Fashion Law Institute Director Susan Scafidi addressed the abuse of women and girls in the modeling industry. Rocha smiled radiantly as she took to the podium next saying, “I am ultra excited about The Model Alliance.” She further noted that many other top models including Agyness Deyn, Behati Prinsloo, Hilary Rhoda, Dree Hemingway and Karlie Kloss have expressed their support for the organization despite not being able to attend the event. “With all of the positive changes that the industry has gone through,” Rocha stated, “there is still a long, long way to go.”
The Model Alliance was founded as a nonprofit organization committed to establishing a voice for models in the American fashion industry and as Columbia University’s American Politics professor Dorian Warren highlighted during his speech, “is part of a growing movement of workers of all kinds.”
He drew an interesting comparison between the Alliance’s efforts to effect change in the fashion industry and that the NBA and NFL, while congratulating Ms. Ziff for forging relationships with these and other groups aiming to improve their industries.
After the remarks had been made and the video had played, attendees fêted the launch to the sounds of D.J. Ted Gushue, who donated his time to the event. Vodka was courtesy of Smirnoff. But the celebration could only continue for a short while longer as Ziff and Scafidi were bound for radio appearances with Brian Lehrer early the following morning. Professor Warren confided that the Alliance, although fully fledged by the time of its launch, had humble beginnings. It began as an idea for a paper Ziff wrote for an assignment three and a half years ago to finally grow into a reality today. Applause and cheers rang out as Prof. Warren closed, “Hats off to Sara. Hats off to The Model Alliance.”
— By Marcia Mitchell
February 8, 2012
Screening and panel discussion of “Picture Me”
On October 25 2010, the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School hosted a screening and panel discussion of Model Alliance founder Sara Ziff’s documentary Picture Me. The 80-minute film, co-directed by Ziff and her partner Ole Schell, follows Ziff on the international runway circuit and features interviews with Lisa Cant, Cameron Russell, Gilles Bensimon, and Nicole Miller, among others.
Picture Me shows the behind-the-scenes reality of models’ lives — sometimes glizty, sometimes dramatic and raw. Agency debt, sexual harassment, eating disorders and exhaustion from long hours at fashion weeks are all tackled. After the screening, Ziff and Schell joined a panel of industry experts to discuss.
All four members of the Model Alliance board — Ziff, Fordham law school professor Susan Scafidi, Columbia University labor professor Dorian Warren, and former model and Jezebel blogger Jenna Sauers — were represented on the panel, with Scafidi serving as moderator. Also present was model Victoria Keon-Cohen, who is the chair of the models’ division of UK trade union Equity, along with the acting chair of the CFDA Health Initiative Nian Fish, casting director James Scully, then-general counsel to the Ford agency Doreen Small, and president of Marilyn models, Chris Gay. As Style.com reported at the time, Gay told the crowd, “The business should be regulated. It would be very tough for us to regulate from within.” Fish, who currently tackles eating disorders and underage employment through the Initiative, agreed.
In Ziff’s view, the underlying problem is the lack of a formal professional organization for models working in the American fashion industry. As independent contractors, models have little in the way of workers’ rights, and their youth and disposability makes them particularly vulnerable. And so the Model Alliance was born.
— By Model Alliance staff
October 30, 2010