Early Tuesday, James Scully, a prominent casting director who has worked with brands like Oscar de la Renta, Tom Ford, Jason Wu and more in model casting and development, took to Instagram to speak up about quite a few things in the fashion industry.
In short, the Paris Fashion Week dispatch accused French-based houses like Balenciaga of treating models inhumanely and Lanvin of what amounts to racism.
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So true to my promise at #bofvoices that I would be a voice for any models, agents or all who see things wrong with this business I'm disappointed to come to Paris and hear that the usual suspects are up to the same tricks. I was very disturbed to hear from a number of girls this morning that yesterday at the Balenciaga casting Madia & Rami (serial abusers) held a casting in which they made over 150 girls wait in a stairwell told them they would have to stay over 3 hours to be seen and not to leave. In their usual fashion they shut the door went to lunch and turned off the lights, to the stairs leaving every girl with only the lights of their phones to see. Not only was this sadistic and cruel it was dangerous and left more than a few of the girls I spoke with traumatized. Most of the girls have asked to have their options for Balenciaga cancelled as well as Hermes and Ellie Saab who they also cast for because they refuse to be treated like animals. Balenciaga part of Kering it is a public company and these houses need to know what the people they hire are doing on their behalf before a well deserved law suit comes their way. On top of that I have heard from several agents, some of whom are black that they have received mandate from Lanvin that they do not want to be presented with women of color. And another big house is trying to sneak 15 year olds into paris! It's inconceivable to me that people have no regard for human decency or the lives and feelings of these girls, especially when too too many of these models are under the age of 18 and clearly not equipped to be here but god forbid well sacrifice anything or anyone for an exclusive right? If this behavior continues it's gonna be a long cold week in paris. Please keep sharing your stories with me and I will continue to to share them for you. It seems to be the only way we can force change and give the power back to you models and agents where it rightfully belongs. And I encourage any and all to share this post #watchthisspace
According to Scully, in a now disputed account, casting directors Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes left 150 models in a stairwell with no lights for three hours while they went off for lunch. Others, like model Judith Schiltz who attended the casting supported Scully’s account and later Balenciaga confirmed that they had already fired the casting agents.
But the day of the show, there was another issue. A group of models protested outside of the venue for the runway presentation bearing “Black Models Matter” signs, a phrase that was first seen on a handbag at New York Fashion Week. There, the models were pointing out the fact that the brand’s creative director Demna Gvasalia had been casting some of the least diverse shows since he ascended to the top post. Inside, at the show, there were four black models out of 47 looks total which was an improvement from seasons past.
Model Ashely B. Chew poses during #NYFW16 with Black Models Matter shirt:
Scully’s first message addressed another brand though. According to him, Lanvin sent out a mandate to model agents to not send any models of color to their casting. Lanvin denied that claim vehemently and at their show, there were two black models and two Asian models. It was a similar casting to what they had done last season.
The industry took note of Scully’s missive. Today, he wrote another. After thanking people for sharing and supporting his original message he announced that some changes were on the way for fashion week.
“I have now gathered major support behind the scenes and both Kering and LVMH have pledged to fully support me in any way possible to reverse this behavior and return some of the joy and humanity back to this business,” he said mentioning the largest two fashion conglomerates in the industry. “And more houses are ready to join. So this season has passed and you can say goodbye to the way it was because September will be a whole new ballgame.”
Seems like a change is certainly on the way.