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Models Back Casting Director’s Claims Of Racism And ‘Sadistic’ Mistreatment At Paris Fashion Week

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Leomie Anderson, Helena Christensen and Joan Smalls have shown their support for casting director James Scully who has made a public accusation about racism and mistreatment faced by models at Paris Fashion Week.

Scully accused Balenciaga’s casting agency of “sadistic, cruel and dangerous” treatment of models and Lanvin of sending out a mandate stating “they do not want to be presented with women of colour”, in an Instagram post on Tuesday 28 February.

A Lanvin spokesperson told WWD Scully’s “allegations are completely false and baseless.”

However, Balenciaga revealed it had issued an apology to the models involved and had broken ties with its Paris Fashion Week casting agency.

Catwalking via Getty Images
The Balenciaga Spring Summer 2017 Paris Fashion Week show on 2 October 2016.

Scully’s post explained he was “very disturbed” by what he had heard “from a number of girls” about the Balenciaga casting. 

“They made over 150 girls wait in a stairwell [and] told them they would have to stay over three hours to be seen and not to leave,” he wrote.

“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 traumatised.

“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 colour. 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 we’ll sacrifice anything or anyone for an exclusive, right?”

Following Scully’s post Balenciaga released the following statement:

“On Sunday 26 February 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.”

Helena Christensen replied to Scully’s Instagram post writing: “Thank you for sharing! This is important.

“People can be such scumbags, selfish, arrogant and pathetic. Keep sharing, girls and keep raising awareness.” 

Joan Smalls also shared her support writing: “ Preach. Also you should be casting more just to bring more justice and equality to this industry.”

And Leomie Anderson shared the tweet below as well as commenting on Scully’s Instagram post: “Means so much to have someone in the industry such as yourself speak up against the mistreatment of models.”

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