The August issue of Vogue China includes the model Ondria Hardin in one shot, pictured above, in a group editorial. So far, so much the usual for a rising star in the modeling world. But the problem is that Hardin — at least according to multiple print and online news sources — is not 16 yet. Has Vogue already violated the Health Initiative it pledged to abide by just four months ago?
Hardin, a South Carolina native, has been modeling since the age of 13 — and given her extreme youth and the lack of labor protections available to models, controversy has long swirled around the industry's demand for her. In the spring of 2011, when she was just 13, Steven Meisel shot Hardin for the fall, 2011, Prada campaign. That September, after turning 14, she walked at New York fashion week for designers including Marc Jacobs. In February of 2012, designers pledged not to hire for runway work models under the age of 16, but Hardin — along with at least one other model under 16 — walked again for Jacobs, spurring significant criticism in the media. She continued to work through the spring and summer, shooting editorials with magazines including W and Lula (where she scored a cover), numerous designer lookbooks, and walking in Resort shows for the likes of Stella McCartney. In February, Hardin was reported to be 14. At the New York shows this September, when Hardin could have been no older than 15, she walked for seven designers, including Jacobs, Thakoon, Marchesa, and Oscar de la Renta. Just a couple hours ago in Milan she walked for Gucci.
Hardin's agency, Ford, says she is currently 16, but won't divulge her date of birth or provide any proof of her age. Lying about models' ages is common in modeling; there are famous examples both of models being told to shave years off their true ages to compete in an ageist industry (Agyness Deyn) and of models being instructed by their agents to tell clients they are older than they are in order to book more work (this is documented extensively in, among other sources, the new movie Girl Model; 15-year-old Valerija Sestic was also able to walk at NYFW after her agency, Women, lied to clients about her age). And Ford has lied about its business practices as they pertain to model age in the past: the same season it sent 14-year-old Hardin to walk for Jacobs, it signed a pledge not to put models under 16 forward for runway work.
And Vogue, well, Vogue promised in May to end its practice of hiring models under the age of 16 for print work in all of the magazine's international editions. Yet here is Hardin in the August issue. How old was she at the time of the shoot? Not 16, surely. [Fashionista]
- Vivienne Westwood would rather you not buy her spring collection. "I don't really care about fashion," she told reporters before the show. Westwood cares about climate change. "My motto is ‘buy less, choose well, make it last.' You should wait until you really need something before you buy it. In fact, don't buy this collection." [Vogue UK]
- Put Solange Knowles in the Westwood camp: the singer says she, too, isn't really that into fashion, though she does take a measure of pride in her personal style. As regards that incident where she was criticized on natural-hair blogs for the way she wore her hair, she has no regrets: "I thought to myself, ‘This is really crazy. That these people know more about my hair than the human that even carries it!' I went to my Twitter and sort of impulsively expressed that. I don't regret it one bit, but sometimes trying to put how you feel in an one-hundred forty character structure is not really successful." And Knowles is no longer a face of Carol's Daughter. "I was constantly fighting for the right message to be heard," she says. "The message that the way we wear our hair is a personal choice, there's no right or wrong way." [Fashionista]
- Beth Ditto is heading to Milan fashion week to perform during the Versus show. "I'm a big fan of Beth's voice and energy," says Donatella Versace. Does Versace make clothing in Beth Ditto's size? [WWD]
- Last week, the New York Times published an article about how graft is influencing street style photography — in terms of brands giving or lending clothing to popular street-style subjects, like top fashion editors and bloggers, and even paying them money as endorsers. "Popular bloggers and other so-called influencers can earn $2,000 to $10,000 for a single appearance in their wares," wrote the reporter. But Independent Fashion Bloggers' Jennine Jacob tried to find someone, anyone who could confirm that such a $10,000 transaction had ever taken place, and nobody — not a P.R., not a blogger, not an agent, not a photographer — could offer any examples. Jacobs even contacted all of the sources included in the Times article: no dice. Several people said they had "heard" about such sums changing hands, or that it was "possible" that bloggers are cashing $10,000 checks, but nobody could actually identify one. [IFB]
- Leandra Medine of the Man Repeller calls the article "interesting, informative and conceivably true." [Man Repeller]
- And onto the next: here's a list of all the Milan shows you can watch from the comfort of your home Internet connection. [Fashionista]
- Karl Lagerfeld says he didn't mean to imply that Pippa Middleton was ugly when he reportedly said "I don't like her face." He says now, "I didn't mean that! I only meant I don't think her make-up is right; she has a roundish face and round eyes and she should pick another make-up for the eyes." Also, Lagerfeld thinks the "sexiest" Middleton is Carole, because of her "energy." [Grazia]
- The first Yves Saint Laurent store to be built under Hedi Slimane's watch is set to open in Shanghai this week. Revamps of stores in Berlin and Paris are to follow. The Chinese store is big, black, stark, and '70s, with lots of marble. Slimane's first women's wear collection for the brand will walk in Paris on October 1. [WWD]
- Betsey Johnson's daughter Lulu is reportedly starting her own fashion line. "My archives, my knowledge, everything — I hope at the end of the day, I give it all to you and hope that you're happy," Johnson tells Lulu in a Web video. That might prove difficult considering that during her company's financial difficulties, Johnson put up all of her brand's intellectual property and archives as collateral for a loan. Which it then defaulted on in bankruptcy. [Racked]
- Inditex, parent company of Zara, had a great first six months: profits rose year-on-year by 32%, to $1.24 billion. Same-store sales were up by 7%. [WWD]
- Glamour's Louise Roe is set to replace Elle MacPherson as a host of Fashion Star. [DFR]
- The late, lamented Filene's Basement in Union Square is turning into a Burlington Coat Factory. [WWD]
- The ever-inventive folks from Benetton's advertising firm have a new campaign out, and there's no smooching world leaders this time — just funemployed Millennials. [AdRants]
- Iconix may be interested in buying the troubled men's wear company HMX (which owns the brands Hart Schaffner Marx and Hickey Freeman). [WWD]
- Disney is opening new in-store boutiques with exclusive products in at least 520 J.C. Penney stores. [WWD]
- Lady Gaga has weighed in on the ongoing fast-food throwdown between Oscar de la Renta and New York Times critic Cathy Horyn. Gaga Tweeted @OscarPRGirl, the social-media face of the house, "Bravo Oscar. Only you would be so chic as to purchase an entire page in WWD, making statements like a good fashion citizen." Jesus Christ. De la Renta made a mistake! A simple, easily understandable mistake. He misunderstood a slang term from a register he doesn't himself use. Many people would do the same! But making a mistake is not admirable or "chic." Gaga — writing in her V opinion column, naturally — has previously criticized Cathy Horyn for having opinions. [@LadyGaga]
- Natalie Massenet has taken over from Harold Tillman as the head of the British Fashion Council, the trade organization responsible for organizing London Fashion Week. [WWD]