Must Be 16 To Walk

Over the past few years, even the past few weeks, it has come to the public’s and the fashion world’s attention that there are models who may be too young to be modeling, at least for certain designers and collections. Diane Von Furstenberg and Michael Kors are two of these designers who believe there should be an age restriction on modeling for shows or for photograph.

Michael Kors gave a statement explaining his reasoning for keeping the models 16 and up, “I still think it’s weird when models come in on go-sees. I don’t understand how anyone can think that a model is a mannequin. I like to think of them as just women … When they come in, I’m always like, ‘Where are you from? Tell me about your life.’ That’s the first thing I say. We were laughing, though, because two seasons ago, I said, ‘You know what? These girls we’re seeing are too young. They are children.’ It’s silly … I said two years ago, ‘No models under 16.’ Well, of course, right after I said that, we started seeing all of these girls from Eastern Europe, and every girl who’d walk in, you’d say, ‘Hi. What’s your name?’ And she’d be like, ‘I’m Svetlana.’ I’m like, ‘Svetlana, where are you from?’ ‘Ukraine.’ ‘Svetlana, how old are you?’ ’16.’ Next girl walks in — she’s from Eastern Europe and 16. Next one? Eastern European and 16. I was like, ‘Was there a bus?’ But I still think it’s a tricky thing because no matter how beautiful you might be at 15 or 16, the simple truth is that you haven’t lived enough to really know how to project anything in a photograph. It’s like a kind of blank beauty.”

On the other hand, Diane Von Furstenberg’s reasoning is slightly more legal related. As it has been all over fashion news (including our own news), Hailey Clauson, the “underage” model, has filed a lawsuit against a few companies due to her age and the suggestive nature of the photograph unrightfully produced on Tee shirts sold nationwide. As Diane’s reasoning behind the new age restriction has nothing to do with Hailey’s lawsuit, Diane herself has had interaction with the model. Last season, DVF selected Hailey to walk down the runway for their show, and unbeknownst to DVF, Hailey was only 15. This accident became public when DVF had “encouraged designers to forego hiring models under 16,” later Diane issued an apology.

To prevent issues such as these from arising, Diane Von Furstenberg, also CFDA President has recommended that all designers view a valid ID from each of the models before the show. DVF has sent out a letter informing all designers of this preventative measure. Included in the letter is a report from the top modeling agencies to not send models under the age of 16 to such shows. As we all know, people, models especially, lie about their age. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this issue gets taken seriously and no one’s artistic reputation or legal reputation becomes defamed.


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