She singled out Milan as the worst offender of the four cities, with just 13.5 percent of shows casting a nonstandard-size model this season, and 77 percent fewer “curvy models” compared with London. The British runways had the most size diversity, with 39 percent of shows including a curve model, while in New York 37 percent did, and in Paris 25 percent, Ms. Van Houtte said.
Ms. Elsesser, lately one of the catwalk’s most sought-after stars, walked for Marni in Japan at the very beginning of the season. But she skipped the rest of the season for personal reasons, her agent said this week. Given Ms. Elsesser’s omnipresence in the past few seasons, her absence probably contributed to the statistical decrease in size diversity this season. It also underscored high fashion’s ongoing dependence on a handful of faces to tick the size diversity box, rather than working to increase the number of jobs available for midsize and plus size models. Unsurprisingly, accusations of tokenism have resurfaced in recent weeks, as well as concern for the health of models facing pressure to conform to more restrictive industry standards.
Cyril Brulé is the director of Viva Model Management Agency, which represents Emily Ratajkowski, and was a key force in the implementation of the models charter signed by the French luxury groups LVMH and Kering in 2017. The charter banned the casting of models under the age of 16 and under a French size 32, or a U.S. size 0. But in a telephone call this week, Mr. Brulé said that he had recently seen a significant increase in the casting of girls he described as “distractingly skinny” in fashion shows this season.
One model who had lost a lot of weight told him she felt she had to in order to fit into the sample sizes in Paris; usually, when a nonstandard-size model is booked, a single specific sample will be made for her. Another said that, while she had done some commercial jobs over the past few months, she knew she would have to lose four to five kilograms to be booked for fashion week shows — so she did.
“This girl told me, ‘I’ve been walking in shows every day here, and this is the price I have to pay if I want to work’ — and she both wants and needs to work,” Mr. Brulé recalled. “It was the same during the men’s wear season, too. Many designers and their creative directors have returned to a preference for a hyper-skinny aesthetic again, and this means the rest of the industry falls into line.”