At the recently held New York Fashion Week, Victoria Beckham was criticised for using extremely skinny models on the ramp. We ask popular city-based models what the healthy size for the Indian ramp should be
The idea of the perfect size changes every year but the industry does expect the models to be skinny and tall. In India, however, I feel they actually prefer girls with a little shape as they look better in indian clothes. We have never particularly requested for a skinny model or not worked with a model because she wasn’t a size zero.
A model walks the runway during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Autumn/Winter 2015/16 held at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany. Pic/Getty Images
I am aware about the Victoria Beckham controversy. Luckily, I have never been asked to drop size. In our country, we prefer curves. Having said that, I maintain myself by working out regularly. It is a part of my lifestyle and not a necessity to make it to the ramp. In India. it has been size 8 constantly. for the last few years. Abroad it was size 0. Now, I believe that size 4 has become internationally accepted
Sucheta Sharma James
A certain size and height is imperative for a model to maintain because you drape any cut or style, and it should look perfect. It’s no pressure on the model; more a necessity, which all models should practise, if interested in ramp modelling. All designers want their models to have well-toned bodies, clear skin and the right work ethic. I had put on weight due to a hormonal imbalance; I was dropped from a fashion week but it was good. I trained hard to get back in shape and now, I do all possible shows in India. Besides, the West is a different market than India. Here, we want models to be a minimum size 8, which isn’t skinny. It’s healthy slim and if you train, it fits perfect.
India is more forgiving, as far as the fashion industry is concerned. Once you are a known model and are a part of the fraternity, most designers accept you as you are, and give you work even if you put on or lose a few kilos, while you are working. It may be slightly tough when you are a newcomer. The size zero trend started in the West. Unfortunately, India apes the West a lot, which is very sad. Today, the West too wants more humane body types but having said that, their girls are nowhere close to big. Victoria Beckham is reed thin herself; she probably makes clothes from that perspective. People can choose not to buy those clothes. They probably won’t as they won’t fit.
At New York Fashion Week, a model with Down’s Syndrome walked the ramp for another designer. As models, our job is to carry off the designer’s creation. Iconic models like Tyra Banks have been beautifully voluptuous. Supermodels of the 1980s, like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell were a far cry from skinny but fashion has to revamp its definition every few years. Also, the general belief is that clothes fall well on a thin body. There is pressure on models (male or female) to be on the thinner side. Often, newcomers are asked to lose weight but it’s part of the profession. Today, the idea of beauty is defined by both, Beyoncé and Victoria Beckham.
A model and the garment should compliment each other. Either of the two being a misfit could ruin the look. I have my brand of men’s casual shirts where the fit is its USP; hence, I understand that the ideal shape that the designer has in their head is based on the kind of cuts or shape he/she wants the clothes in, and how it should fall. Indian girls are not as skinny as some in the West. Our female models work out hard; this is 80% of the battle won.
Weight and watch
>> In 2006, models with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18 or under were banned from Madrid Fashion Week. This rule kicked in after a model dropped dead minutes after walking off the catwalk from heart failure.
Hedi Slimane at the Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 2013 show in Paris. Pic/ AFP
>> In June, 2015 a Saint Laurent ad was banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority for being “irresponsible” by showing super-twiggy model Kiki Willems sprawled on the floor; it called her “unhealthily underweight” due to her visible rib cage and incredibly bony legs. Saint Laurent’s creative director, Hedi Slimane has been criticised for his choices in male models, too.
Models at the Victoria Beckham show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week,New York pic/AFP
>> In September 2015, France passed a surprise law, making it a criminal offence to employ very skinny women on the catwalk. The new law stated that anyone running an agency that employed undernourished models below an as-yet undefined BMI risks a maximum six-month prison term and a £55,000 fine.
What was the ruckus about?
At last week’s New York Fashion Week, Victoria Beckham was hauled by the UK press and social media for using very thin and very young models. Women’s groups called for her to use a more diverse range of body types. In 2010, she had reportedly said the she took her role seriously and didn’t wish to use skinny girls.
Designer Victoria Beckham