Thanks to New Legislation, The Faces of Fashion Week Should Look Different Soon

Karlie Kloss

Despite repeated calls from within to use both older and less gaunt models, the fashion industry couldn’t regulate itself, so New York State is doing it for them.  Legislation passed this week to apply to under-18 models the same protections that are offered to other child performers.  The new laws will impose limits on the hours the models can work (no fittings after midnight on a school night, for instance!) and how soon they can be required to return to work after leaving (answer: 12 hours).  Designers might also have to provide on-set tutors and chaperones in some instances.

With its late-night, last-minute fittings, long prep hours, and madcap casting calls, Fashion Week will be one of the most significantly affected parts of the industry.  While there have already been some incremental shifts toward hiring more mature models, thanks in no small part to Diane von Furstenberg’s efforts at the CFDA to invoke a 16-and-over rule, the new law could be the most significant thing bringing adults back to the runway in years.  Considering the stress designers are under during show season, it seems unlikely they’re going to trim their models’ hours and be bringing in tutors.  We imagine they’d just cast slightly older girls.

What will also be interesting to see is how the agencies react to the new law — they’re not known for always focusing on their girls’ best interest.  As for designers outside of Fashion Week, as well as magazines, we’d bet that they’d rather shift toward using models older than 18 than have to start hiring tutors and chaperones and cutting models’ hours to something reasonable.  Now, if only legislation could do something about the weight — or lack thereof — problem that still pervades most of high fashion…