Friday, October 25, 2013

Beauty Law: Mascara is Exempt from Mercury Ban at United Nations' Minamata Convention
On October 10, 2013, over 140 nations negotiated and signed a United Nations Minamata Convention pact designed to limit mercury use and emissions. As a result mercury mining, certain batteries, switch and delay units, and light bulbs were banned. Even certain soaps and cosmetics were banned but mascara was not; and Stacy Malkan, cofounder of the advocacy group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, asks why. Malkan says women should not put something so toxic close to their eyeballs. 

Mascara is known to contain mercury but not enough to be pulled from store shelves. EnvironmentalandHealthNews.Org reports that although soaps and cosmetics containing more than 1 part per million of mercury will be banned by 2020, mascara and other cosmetics are exempt because of concern that there are no other safe alternatives. But Malkan, disagrees. She says that there is no reason that a known neurotoxin should be allowed in any of these products because most companies have already found alternatives, they just have not been using them.  Instead of using mercury, some major brands use phenoxyethanol, methylisothianzolinone, parabes and formaldehyde releasers, but such substitutes may not be benign. formaldehyde is a carcinogen for example, but none of the substitutes is as toxic as mercury. 

Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration allows mercury in eye cosmetics at a concentration of up to 65 parts per million. In fact, the FDA does not require ingredients that comprise less than 1 percent of a cosmetic product to be divulged on the label, so if you did not know, you would never know from reading the label.

But is a little mercury in mascara bad? Scientific research proves the helpful use of mercury. Mercury acts as a preservative and a germ killer to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi that could spoil the products. Joanna Tempowsi, a World health Organization Scientist says that "the risk- benefit analysis favors the use of these preservatives." Kristin Adams would disagree. Adams is the chief executive officer of Afterglow Cosmetics, a natural and organic cosmetic company, and she believes that the big cosmetics companies use preservatives to extend shelf life. She says, "the large companies are looking for a 5 year shelf life or the cosmetics will go bad very fast."

Fashion Legallaire's take: As of right now, mascara is not banned from the mercury treaty but there should be careful consideration in its use. For starters, one should not use the same mascara for more than three months because reuse exposes it to air and the eye, multiple times causing bacteria to form. Always wash your makeup off every night especially around the eye areas for they are the most sensitive. Facial pores grow its own bacteria let alone more caused from makeup use. For more environmental health news visit For more fashion environmental news, read our article on the Fashion Toxic Report. 

New York Law Now Protects Child Models

This week serves as a happy time for child models in New York because NY governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new child performer law which includes protection for runway and print models under the age of 18; and specific accommodations for those under the age of 16. As a front runner in the fashion frontier, it is a shame that NY did not already include child models in its labor laws.

Before the passing of this law, a child performer in the state of New York was anyone under the age of 18 in the artistic or creative services (New York Arts & Cultural Affairs Law sections 35.03 and 35.05). Only that models were excluded from this law. Consequentially, a child model had no legal recourse for any child labor law violation. Child Models need health, educational, and financial protection too. They work long hours, sometimes miss school, experience financial mismanagement, and are may be subject to very egregious violations such as sexual abuse so it is very important that they have legal protection. Check out our post on Model Law 101.

Many model supporters in the fashion industry knew that it was time for a change. Under the leadership of Sara Ziff, fashion model, and founder and director of the Model Alliance (MA), MA proposed  a petition to give child models the same legal protections as all child performers on June 9, 2013. The bill was introduced by Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein, State Senate Labor Committee Chairwoman Diane Savino, and House of Asseblyman Steven Otis. Subsequently, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed it. Now that it is signed into law, it goes into effect after 30 days.

What changes can NY child models and employers expect to see?

  • designation of a responsible person to supervise their work place if they are under 16
  • employers must provide nurses and pediatric care on hand at all times
  • a healthy and safe environment
  • teachers with a designated work space for tutoring/education, breaks and snack times (aww)
  • no working earlier than 5 a.m. and no later than 10 p.m. on school nights; and no later than 12:39 a.m. on non-school nights
  • the child or parent's guardian and employer must transfer at least 15% of the child's gross earnings into a separate bank account
Fashion Legallaire's tips: It is always best to consult a fashion attorney to make sure that you are following employment practices with your fashion company. Nobody wants to be known as violating child rights so make sure that you understand the law well and follow it. Make sure that the area is safe and healthy for your child models, their families, and your staff with the necessary health and educational professionals on hand with designated work areas. Lastly, when in doubt, if you do not need a child model just hire an adult model. On top of other legalities, hiring a child model requires more legal documents like work permits, certificates, and more contracts so cross all your t's and dot all of your i's . 

Hopefully this new American law will bring change in other fashion industries of the world. Many European countries are notorious for harsh conditions when it comes to child models.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Whistleblower Rick Bourke of Dooney and Bourke Jailed for White Collar Crime
Don't blame the whistleblower or do you? In today's fashion law report, we have Rick Bourke, cofounder of  the luxury hand bag company Dooney and Bourke, and the corrupt Azerbaijani oil deal. The american businessman and philanthropist is caught in the midst of white collar crime and is another whistle blower jailed under the Obama Administration.

Democracy Now reports that since May 2013, Bourke has been held in federal prison serving a term of one year and one day for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for alleged knowledge of a bribery that took place in 1998. After blowing the whistle on the fraudulent scheme by international criminals to gain control of the oil riches of the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, Bourke's guilt has been questioned.

His charges include conspiring to pay bribes to government leaders in Azerbaijan as part of a risky scheme to buy the state oil company in the former Soviet republic. After an unsuccessful appeal, he was ordered to pay $1 million in fines.

As a major investor in the deal, the fact is not made certain whether Bourke was a victim, criminal, or mere whistleblower. While the question awaits to be answered, Bourke remains as the only person behind bars in custody at Englewood maximum security in Denver, Colorado. Bourke claims that he was defrauded by the oil scheme's promoter Victor Kozeny. Kozeny was not charged but referred to in court as the "Pirate of Prague."

Bourke's attorney, Michael Tigar asks, "Why is it that the United States government, having seen that the District Attorney's Office has caught Kozeny, a thief- why is it that they would go after the guy that blew the whistle on the thievery and bribery, Rick Bourke?"

More of the story here.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Is Prada Spring/Summer 2014 too Modern?

When you think of Prada, you may think about the women's designs that shadow the 30's and the 40's - tailored and classic dresses, skirts, pants, and blouses for women. Though traditional, this style is the foundation that built Prada and gives her the client fan base she has known since 1930. However, if you saw the spring and summer collections for next year, you will see that Prada looks very modern- popart-ish with bright colored designes. 

And in response, my friends and I had a few questions: were is this modern look too modern for Prada (if there ever is such a thing)? Is this the new direction of Prada or is this simply a collection? We figured that a fashion power house has to stay modern enough to stay fresh with the time and gain new or younger clients in addition to maintaining its true essence to keep their previous clients. Also, this could just be a collection. The creative director for this line is Prada's granddaughter Miuccia. She is a collector of contemporary art so that could explain her artistic focus and direction of this line. But no disrespect to Miuccia who introduced her first women's ready-to-wear collection that was critically acclaimed in 1989. The council of Fashion Designers of America presented her with the International award in 1993, a very prestigious award. 

The future can only tell us what direction Prada will continue to go in. A fashion house cannot win or keep everybody and neither should they try to make that its , but it is very important to keep delivering what the true clients want . 

Marc Jacobs' Last collection for Louis vuitton

After 16 years with Louis Vuitton (LV), Marc Jacobs will no longer be the creative director. Originally known as a luxury bag and luggage house, Jacobs' direction made LV one of the most formidable ready to wear fashion houses to date, with the introduction of women's wear.

Jacobs says he wants to focus on his namesake brand so he showed his final collection for LV SS 2014 show in Paris. The showcase is reminiscent of a cold and dark London fall with lots of black and very Cirqe du Sole-ish.

He does dedicate the collection to the women who inspired him- Emmanuelle Alt, Judy Garland, Coco chanel, Diana Vreeland, Barbra Streisand, and Anna Wintour- to name a few.