Above the dawdling mass of shoppers in SoHo are glimpses of the New York model scene. Pale faces adorned with high cheekbones bob above the crowd, their portfolios larger than their bird-bone frames. From Sept. 5 to 13, the city becomes the fashion world’s playground, where designers showcase their creations during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Recent model sightings are a precursor to the stomping soon to come — and out here, there’s no runway separating these figurines from the rest of the population.
Fashion models are not uncommon in New York — countless times I have met Tim Burton-esque claymation versions of myself. Witnessing designer versions of my high-waisted skirt and studded blouse fitting loosely over their bony structures, I feel alienated from the world of fashion. The recent overture to Fashion Week has stirred in me a jaded resentment for the growing obsession over negative space rather than the female form. While watching consumers shop for items that romanticize toothpick thighs, I question designers’ motives for creating clothes that exist for only a small percentage of the population.
Nowadays, models have bodies that are unhealthily unattainable. On the runway, we will see models like Andrej Pejic, whose androgyny offers the flat-chested, long-limbed silhouette that designers and the media fixate on. When designers ignore the curve of the chest or fall of the thigh to create garments for shapeless models, womanly shapes take on a negative connotation.
Still, is it not a designer’s right to employ whatever aesthetic to create his or her “art?” Yes, but the overlooked problem with designers unanimously working off a frame of bones arises when their clothes reach the market. Fashion Week designs will trickle down into retail, which will then sell exclusively to one customer: the tall and narrow.
Fashion promoting certain body types isn’t a novel concept. In the 1920’s, corset-like undergarments eliminated waistlines to create a rectangular, curve-free silhouette. Replacing such contraptions today are extreme diets and over-exercise, which, combined, often lead to the eating disorders and distorted body images that plague the modeling industry. Though steps have been taken in the right direction (Vogue banning underfed models, documentaries such as “Girl Model” highlighting model exploitation), designers’ nymphets continue to relay a dangerous message to fashionistas.
It is estimated that eight million Americans — 95 percent of whom are between the ages of 12 and 25 — suffer from eating disorders, which have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Our youth need new role models, but Fashion Week will advertise that being beautiful equates to having a visible ribcage. The distinctions between models and the rest of the female population become clear when you find yourself comparing your body to the gapped thighs buying a coffee before you in Starbucks: Our styles all stem from one Fashion Week, but when the season’s spoils are designed for a size 00, I become fed up with being inadvertently told that I should skip dinner.
Fashion Week’s presence in New York highlights a trend of exclusion from the fashion world. Styles today imply that to participate, we have to resemble the skeletal models competing for a spot on the runway. Organizers are not taking responsibility for their promotion of the distorted dissatisfaction that arises when women look from the runway to the mirror. In flaunting miniature femmes fatales, fashion does kill, and Fashion Week is a contributor to the delusion of bare-boned beauty.
A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 6 print edition. Sasha Leshner is a contributing columnist. Email her at email@example.com.
Click the photo for more looks from VANTAN TOKYO. VANTAN TOKYO is either the only design school participating in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, or the only Japanese design school, depending on personal interpretation of the poorly translated press information. The three …Read More »
- Weekend Roam: Little Germany
- WSN Editorial Board reflects on spring semester events
- Strawberry Festival promises delicious, intergalactic fun
- Clive Davis Institute collaborates with DJ Swivel
- Best places to dine on dumplings
- 'Heroes' is not super enough for Xbox Live film program launch
- NYU SLAM sees victory through 'badidas' campaign
- Victoria Ettore elected student council president
- Hester Street Fair hosts diverse vendors, delicious food