Size-zero hero: Fashion's high priestess calls time on 'size zero'

'Vogue' admits to retouching photos as editor calls on world designers to stop producing clothes that even the skinniest models can't get into

It is the ultimate "size zero" backlash. The editor of Vogue has lambasted the world's top designers for making their clothes too tight for even the skinniest models.

In a letter sent to the biggest names in fashion, from Prada to Chanel, Alexandra Shulman has blamed fashion houses for forcing fashion magazines to find unrealistically tiny models to squeeze into their designs. Photos of models with "no breasts or hips" encourage eating disorders, which affect more than a million people in Britain, campaigners believe.

Her letter to designers from Stella McCartney and John Galliano to Karl Lagerfeld and Alexander McQueen comes as new designers are being urged to "recast the beauty ideal" by designing catwalk clothes that might actually fit real women. For the first time, this autumn's London Fashion Week will feature an event celebrating all shapes and sizes, rather than the "size zeros" that prevail in a typical catwalk show.

The British Fashion Council, which organises the capital's biannual fashion extravaganza, is backing the initiative from Beat, Britain's leading eating disorder charity, which will showcase curvier, older models than the likes of such skinny catwalk superstars as Agyness Deyn and Lily Cole. "It will celebrate and represent a range of body shapes and sizes," said Caroline Rush, the BFC's joint chief executive.

Caryn Franklin, a fashion writer and broadcaster who is working with Beat on the event, said: "It's about expanding the imagery that comes out of LFW so that women can for once see themselves mirrored [in the catwalk photos]."

The supermodel Erin O'Connor, who is deputy chairman of LFW, is also working with Beat on the event. She backed Ms Shulman's call for designers to rethink their sizing, fashion's dark secret that lies at the heart of the "size zero" furore, which has claimed the lives of several models who starved themselves to shoehorn their bodies into tiny catwalk designs. Ms Franklin added: "It's fantastic that Alex, from her position of power and respect, is saying that even Vogue has had enough."

Ms Shulman's letter pointed out that Vogue frequently had to retouch photographs to make models look larger – the opposite of the sort of vanity airbrushing that usually goes on at magazines. It is the first time that a fashion magazine has ever locked horns with designers over their skimpy sizes.

Ms Rush added: "We are pleased that Vogue has chosen to highlight issues of sample sizing and identify their readers' concerns for model health and the photographic representation of fashion."

Although designers claim their samples are sized 8 to 10, fashion insiders admit that these bear no resemblance to anything you might find hanging on the size 8 or 10 hangers at a high street retailer.

Even some of the hottest newer models, such as Daisy Lowe, are too big for most sample sizes.

So far, no designer has responded publicly to the Vogue editor's letter, which was sent at the end of last month. Instead, designers have defended their sizing as "perfectly reasonable", according to Ms Shulman.

But for Beat's LFW event, which will be held at Somerset House in September, designers will have to cut their clothes more generously. Susan Ringwood, chief executive of Beat, said: "We want to encourage the fashion industry to show diversity and to challenge the aesthetic. The beauty ideal needs to be recast. It's not about being very tall or very thin."

It is the first time that the eating disorder charity will be involved with an event at London Fashion Week.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

    Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager - Events, Digital, Offline

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager (Events, Digit...

    Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

    £30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

    Day In a Page

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
    Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

    The end of an era across the continent

    It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
    Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

    'Focus on killing American people'

    Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
    Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

    Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

    The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
    Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

    Same-sex marriage

    As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
    The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

    The Mafia is going freelance

    Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable