Healthier look on the catwalk at London Fashion Week

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The Independent Online

R.I.P. size zero. Eating disorder watchdogs had rare words of praise for the fashion industry last week after failing to spot any protruding bones on models parading the catwalks at London Fashion Week.

Six months after the British Fashion Council, which organises the capital's biannual fashion extravaganzas, acknowledged the industry had a problem with undersized girls by setting up a task force to tackle the issue, it seems the skeletal look has fallen out of vogue.

Susan Ringwood, who heads the eating disorder association Beat, said yesterday: "I didn't see anybody I thought looked worryingly unhealthy. Six months ago I did. I saw girls where you could see every bone and even their backbone sticking out."

Caryn Franklin, the fashion writer and broadcaster who is very outspoken about size zero (which equates to a UK size four), said she had seen a change at the shows last week. "I definitely didn't see any thin or ill-looking models. I saw some women I thought had great shapes and strong bodies."

Ahead of the shows model agencies said they had been besieged by demands from designers for girls with some shape, such as Daisy Lowe. One agency turned away a girl it thought was one stone underweight.

Attention yesterday switched to Milan, where eight days of shows have kicked off, because Italy's fashion capital has decreed that all models have to carry a medical certificate showing that they are healthy. The British Fashion Council has been advised to follow suit by next September by the Model Health Inquiry, headed by Baroness Kingsmill.

Beat is to hold a debate on 6 October to give its official verdict on whether the fashion industry "has got its house in order". Ms Ringwood added: "I did still see very slender models. It will be a while before the whole aesthetic has been challenged."

Sceptics fear that unless an independent watchdog is set up to monitor progress the BFC will ignore most of the inquiry's proposals. Dee Doocey, the Liberal Democrat culture spokesperson on the London Assembly, said: "I want sponsors to make their support conditional on the report's recommendations being implemented." So far Canon, LFW's main sponsor, has refused.