Prada sparks controversy after a 14 year old model appeared on the catwalk during Milan Fashion Week

Should luxury fashion houses use underage models during fashion week?

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

Prada has sparked debate after casting Roos Abels, an up-and-coming Dutch model in its spring/summer 2015 show last week, who according to her Instagram account, is just 14 years of age.

The Prada show is one of the biggest shows of Milan Fashion Week and always attracts worldwide press. This season however with the return of Gemma Ward and the casting of Abels, it was the models grabbing all the headlines.

This is not the first time Prada has courted controversy for its use of young models, Hailee Steinfeld was famously cast in a Miu Miu campaign at the age of 14. Lindsey Wixon also appeared in Miu Miu advertising at the age of 15.

And the use of young models isn't unusual across the industry. Some of the most famous names in the industry started young including Kate Moss who was discovered at the age of 14.



However in the USA following the backlash of the appearance of a 15 year old in a Diane von Furstenberg show, the CFDA issued guidelines to brands that models must be at least 16 years of age to appear on a catwalk with all brands recommended to request ID from the models before casting them.

In October the State of New York passed legislation that makes models that are under 18 'child performers' which entitles them to rights such as restrictions on working hours and mandatory breaks.

Despite efforts to create consensus across the industry with Vogue editors across the world in 2012 agreeing to ban featuring models under the age of 16, there is no legislation operating in Milan.


Bruno Pauletta the CEO of Brave Models Milan, the agency that represents Abels told The Independent:

"If the minor, and I mean not only under 16 but under 18, is doing one or two shows maximum here and there per season, without missing more than one or two days of school, with her parents chaperoning her, with the permission of her school and with all the necessary documentation, then I do not see anything wrong."

"Having said that, the minor should not become a full time model and should attend school until the legal age."

Moss herself has spoken out about feeling uncomfortable as a young model in the industry. On the legendary Calvin Klein campaign from 1992 in which she appeared topless with Mark Warlberg she told Vanity Fair:

"I had a nervous breakdown when I was 17 or 18, when I had to go and work with Marky Mark and Herb Ritts. It didn't feel like me at all. I felt really bad about straddling this buff guy. I didn't like it."

"I see a 16 year old now, and to ask her to take her clothes off would feel really weird. But they were like, 'If you don't do it, then we're not going to book you again.' So I'd lock myself in the toilet and cry and then come out and do it."


Prada has not responded to a request for comment.