A former Harper's Bazaar intern is suing the Hearst corporation for failing to pay her. The intern, who is seeking to make the lawsuit a class action, argues that because she worked full time but was not paid, Hearst violated minimum-wage laws. Everyone knows unpaid internships, or internships offered in exchange for college credit, are common in the media (and, for that matter, in fashion, public relations, and a good many other fields besides). Unpaid internships are legal, but only if they are the equivalent of educational training — unpaid interns are not supposed to perform the duties of entry-level employees, and the employer is not supposed to derive any benefit from an unpaid intern's labor. The lawsuit argues,
Employers' failure to compensate interns for their work, and the prevalence of the practice nationwide, curtails opportunities for employment, fosters class divisions between those who can afford to work for no wage and those who cannot, and indirectly contributes to rising unemployment.
The intern who brought the suit, an Ohio State University graduate named Xuedan Wang, claims she worked between 40 and 55 hours per week at Harper's Bazaar for five months doing boring-sounding things like tracking designer samples and arranging for deliveries; in other words, typical intern fare, but hardly the stuff of educational advancement. We have been both an unpaid intern (thanks, McSweeney's) and have helped train and delegated key tasks to unpaid interns (thanks, everyone who ever worked on a model-diversity-at-fashion-week post). It's true that there are great unpaid internships with responsible employers that do offer opportunities for critical hands-on experience and useful contacts for future paying gigs, but it's also true that the prevalence of unpaid internships creates a reliance on a pool of young, uncompensated labor, which can be pernicious. It's not clear that a lawsuit will change that. [NYTimes]
- Gisele Bündchen sent an email to her family and friends asking for their prayers and support for her husband, because apparently he has a pretty important game coming up in that sport he plays. The Post obtained the email, which it calls "disgustingly sappy," and — taking a brief break from its hallowed tradition of trashing the reputations of alleged rape victims in increasingly oversized fonts — printed it as a cover story. The note read:
My sweet friends and family,
This sunday will be a really important day in my husband's life. He and his team worked so hard to get to this point and now they need us more than ever to send them positive energy so they can fulfill their dream of winning this super bowl. I feel Tommy really needs our prayer, our support and love at this time. So I kindly ask all of you to join me on this positive chain and pray for him, so he can feel confident, healthy and strong. Envision him happy and fulfilled experiencing with his team a victory this sunday [sic].
Thank you for your love and support.
Oh, COME ON. How can you read that email and think anything other than, "Oh, that's so sweet"? "Spouse Supports Spouse In Shocker Of The Century" would be a more accurate headline. [NYPost]
- A conservative group called One Million Moms is mad that J.C. Penney hired noted homosexualist Ellen DeGeneres as its new spokesapphist. [Towleroad]
- Thandie Newton says she decided to start growing out her relaxed hair "because I didn't want my daughters to judge their beautiful curls." In a long and insightful interview about the factors that influenced her decision — with bonus photos of Newton's super stylish mother in Zimbabwe in the 1970s — she says "the ultimate personal wake-up call was when I saw Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair, and saw how the active ingredient, Lye — that's in all black hair relaxing products — can melt a Coke can." The actress says that when she was growing up, being a biracial kid in an overwhelmingly white town presented certain challenges, many of which revolved around hair:
"Mum wanted me to fit in, and I don't blame her. My hair hampered that. Poor Mum. I remember when I was 7 at my convent school, it was school photo day so all the kids came looking their best. Mum did my hair in 20 or so corn rows with green wooden beads on each end to match my school uniform. The nuns were appalled, they wouldn't let me have my picture taken. I felt embarrassed, disappointed, ashamed. Can you imagine how my Mum must have felt? There was a mild ruckus and the next day I had my picture taken. But then I read this year a piece in The Independent about a student who appealed against not being able to wear his hair in (what the school felt was a hoodlum-style) braids, and he won. That's 30 years since the Nuns dissed me...This shit keeps going round and round."
And...one more quote, because Newton is so thoughtful about the issues involved — without judging anyone for wearing their hair differently than she does. Here she talks about how politicized black hair is:
"Ultimately, the goal is to be free to do whatever you want with your hair. But what we ‘want' is influenced by so many factors. When I was little I insisted my parents stopped calling me Thandie because it was so ‘different,' my desire was influenced by a community where the way I looked was not celebrated, where my uniqueness was seen as suspect. Whatever we are repelled by, or don't want — right there is the bud to a root we need to dig up and investigate."
- We cannot tell you how disappointed we are by the news that David Beckham's "naked days are over." The newly minted underwear designer — he has a line coming out at H&M — says his kids are getting older, so he has to cover up around the house. "I definitely walk around the house in my underwear. But not naked. With the boys it's not a problem because they're naked all the time but with a little girl now, it is different...Everyone needs underwear — most of the time." Beckham says that his sons' reaction to his new underwear ads was: "'Oh my GOD Daddy — not again.' They were like: 'That's really good, but everyone's gonna see you in your pants.'" [Telegraph]
- It's only February, but British GQ has already named Chris Brown the worst-dressed man of 2012. "For someone who seems to have so much disposable income — he boasts on one track about spending '15 grand on a phone' and charged over $500 for meet-and-greets on his last tour," writes the magazine, "Brown seems utterly adverse [sic] to investing in tailoring, combining the worst excesses of XXL sizing with a penchant for deeply unflattering costumes." Adverse. Is it too soon to name British GQ the worst-copy-edited magazine of 2012, or is Flaunt still holding on to that title? [GQ UK]
- Rocawear is denying reports that the brand is on death's door, after it laid off 28 of its 56 employees last month. Jay-Z is going to be in an ad campaign for the label. That should fix everything. [WWD]
- New York has a story about Polyvore, the image-sharing site. It compares Polyvore to fantasy football, but for fashion. And the site is extremely popular:
Last week Polyvore secured $14 million in funding, bringing its total venture capital to $22.4 million. The site claims 13 million unique users a month, or about double the audience it had two years ago.
- Richard Chai has been named the creative director of the outdoorsy Seattle-based company Filson. [WWD]
- Well, this is a bummer. Erin O'Connor, who has been offering a model sanctuary at London Fashion Week since 2008, has announced that she can't do one this season. The sanctuary was a space for models — many of whom are in their early teens and already working full time — to go during the hectic fashion week period to learn about their rights (there's a union for fashion models in the U.K.) and receive free health care and counseling. O'Connor says she was unable to secure an appropriate space for this season, and that some sponsors have pulled out. "I urge the fashion industry, its partners and key stakeholders to help us secure a permanent home during London Fashion Week, so that we can continue our valuable work," says the supermodel. "It is absolutely vital that we prioritise the welfare of young people within our industry." [Vogue UK]
- Ralph Rucci canceled his fashion show. The designer will instead hold private showroom appointments for buyers and press. [WWD]
- Getting human growth hormones injected into your face "to look younger" seems like a really bad idea to us, but what do we know? [Daily Mail]
- People are attributing Riccardo Tisci's gothic, spiky, piercing-heavy Givenchy couture collection to Lisbeth Salander and her effect on the popular culture; apparently these people don't realize that Riccardo Tisci does that every season. [NYTimes]
- Ann Taylor is replacing its brand president, Christine Beauchamp, after same-store sales fell 11% in the quarter just ended. Online sales and sales at the factory outlets are, however, up. [WWD]