Models leave London in the lurch as they head off to Milan

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Models left London Fashion Week designers in the lurch, it was claimed yesterday, as many departed early to model in Milan instead.

Many of those due to appear on the catwalk cancelled in order to win the Italian job – modelling for Gucci in Milan Fashion Week.

Frida Giannini, creative director of the label – the first big show on Milan's opening roster today – scheduled a casting on Saturday expecting models to travel between Milan and London for fittings, forcing many to renege on previous assignments. Modelling for the prestigious brand, currently celebrating its 90th year, is a high-profile job which can make a model's career.

"Casting shows in London is always quite difficult, and the situation with early calls for casting is unfortunate as it does make it even harder," said Rosie Vogel, bookings editor of Vogue who works as casting agent for many London designers.

"London designers get quite a raw deal – which is upsetting as it is one of the most exciting cities in terms of talent. It is heartbreaking that the schedule seems to make it impossible for London to get the girls in for the whole week – they are either late because of New York or leave early because of Milan, and it only seems to get worse with each season."

While London has a reputation for being the young, fun and experimental fashion capital, financially, it cannot compete with the commercial appeal of New York designers, or the luxury of those who show in Milan.

"Historically, London has always been a stopover between the international collections in New York and Milan," said Carole White, the founder of London-based model agency Premier. "Three years ago the schedule changed and the travel day between New York and London was squeezed out by the British Fashion Council.

"This year because the Marc Jacobs show was rescheduled to be the final on Thursday, the models missed their overnight flights and many of Friday's shows had to be recast. Obviously this magnified the difficulties caused by Gucci's decision to cast so early, and I have spoken to Robert Triefus [Gucci's global director of marketing and communications] about my concerns.

"We are going to see if the situation can be rectified so that these growing businesses in London aren't damaged in the future."

Katie Grand, the influential editor-in-chief of Love magazine and stylist for Topshop Unique, Loewe and Louis Vuitton knows only too well the difficulties of producing a show in London. "It's not easy having lots of models in London because it's not a priority city," she says."In fact, it's not easy having lots of models anywhere. Unless you're Louis Vuitton or Prada, you have to work together and try and keep all sides happy."

Responding to criticisms that she effectively monopolised models on Monday, with a five-hour call time ahead of the Giles Deacon show, she said "A five hour call time for models is completely standard. It's not just for hair and make-up, often you have to do refits and you need the models there."