Casting Agency Fired After Accusations Of Mistreating Models At PFW

Photo: Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo For The Washington Post via Getty Images.
The sub-standard working conditions for young models, rife racism and the promotion of narrow, unrealistic beauty ideals have repeatedly been brought to light as some of the fashion industry's worst problems. One figure who has tirelessly campaigned for more diversity and better treatment of models is US casting director James Scully. Yesterday, Scully took to Instagram to expose the deplorable behaviour taking place this week at castings in Paris for upcoming shows for Balenciaga and Lanvin.
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In the caption of an Instagram image which read "You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better", Scully wrote about his responsibility to continue to campaign for the rights of models and greater inclusivity in the industry, following a talk he gave in December 2016 year for the Business of Fashion:
"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 & Ramy (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"

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 & Ramy (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

A post shared by james scully (@jamespscully) on

Within hours of Scully's post (which received hundreds of comments corroborating his claims), where he bravely pointed the finger at Balenciaga and Lanvin, both French fashion houses responded to his claims of model mistreatment and systemic racism.
Lanvin spokeswoman Sophie Boilley stated: “These allegations are completely false and baseless.” However, Balenciaga accepted culpability and immediately set about making amends. The brand statement read: "On Sunday, February 26th Balenciaga took notice of issues with the model castings carried out on that day. The house reacted immediately, making radical changes to the casting process, including discontinuing the relationship with the current casting agency. Additionally, Balenciaga sent a written apology to the agencies of the models who were affected by this specific situation, asking them to share it with them. Balenciaga condemns this incident and will continue to be deeply committed to ensure the most respectful working conditions for the models."
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We commend Scully for his bravery in outing unacceptable practices among revered casting agents working with some of the world's most powerful fashion houses. Unfortunately, these specific cases are indicative of a deep-rooted problem that spreads across the industry, which will take time and the courage of many more to overcome. However, as the AW17 shows rage on, we hope this acts as an important lesson for designers, brands and agents alike that a fashion revolution is around the corner and we will not stand for racism and the mistreatment of models any longer.
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