Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Model Law 101

Just when you thought the law could not find its way into a new nook and cranny, there is MODEL LAW. Just like fashion law, it is not one of the commonly named types of law but it exists. Some of the legal issues that occur are contracts and negotiations, right to privacy (commercial appropriation), employment and labor, and photo licensing- just to name a few.

On the other spectrum some issues that models may encounter hit the morals of everyday life: is he/she too young or too thin to model? We've all seen that gaunt minor appearing ghost like on the cover of a high fashion magazine. Just ask Marc Jacobs who used an underaged model for his Feb 2012 runway (more below).

But alas! Some fashion organizations have taken a step forward and either recommended guidelines or have placed age and weight requirements in order to work as a model for them. Take Vogue Magazine for example. In the summer of  2012, the magazine reported that all 19 of its international editions have adopted a policy that would not allow it to work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder.

However the magazine broke its pledge later that year when the August 2012  issue of Vogue China featured this model, Ondria Hardin, under the age of 16 at the time of the photo below. In fact her Modeling skills must have been that bomb because she was one of the two underaged models to walk in the Marc Jacobs show of February 2012. Marc Jacobs responded saying: there are children actors and children models for catalogs and stuff, so I guess if a parent thinks it's O.K. and a kid wants to do it, its' fine."  
Huffington Post
 But does Marc Jacobs have a point? There are child actors who, under parental guidance, sign entertainment contracts all the time. Further, The Fashion Law Institute tweeted that if a contract is signed by the parents, the contracts can be binding for the most part, which is why it is imperative for them to be read and understood.

Interestingly enough, this is not the first time that an organization or a group has stood up for the health of models. The Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA) also made efforts to promote health and age standards for models as well. The CFDA received pledges from all the top modeling agencies- including DNA, Elite, Ford, IMG, Marily, Wilhemina- that they will not send out any models under the age of 16 for shows. 

For a deeper look into the modeling industry, (1)visit PBS's infographic on the girl model. It explains the international model's statistics in the following area: where she comes from, what she looks like, how much she grosses as a career, and the function of the agent/agencies (really interesting read); and (2) Watch PBS's Girl Model Documentary about the real lives of two girl models.

Fashion Legallaire Take:  Fashion lawyers are there to help models deal with these industry issues whether it be simple contract negotiation between the model and the agent, or the right to use the model's photo. For example, Marilyn Modeling Agency sued its model Constance Jablonski for $3.3 Million for breach of contract when she began working for competitor agency DNA Model Management.

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