Underage models banned at London Fashion Week

Lily Cole in Dior Couture

Designers at London Fashion Week will be asked to sign contracts prohibiting the use of models under the age of 16. It had been common practice to use models aged 14 or 15 years old, but the British Fashion Council has banned it for the first time insisting that young teenagers are particularly at risk of developing eating disorders. The move pre-empts the final report of the Model Health inquiry, which will be published on Friday, the day before the start of London Fashion Week. The report comes after a year of controversy surrounding the use of super-skinny models on the catwalk and the tragic deaths of three 'size zero' models from South America. The contract will also run a zero-tolerance stance on drug use, and models may face random drug tests before they appear on the catwalk, facing bans and fines if found guilty. The inquiry is led by Baroness Kingsmill and her panel, which includes model Erin O'Connor and designers Giles Deacon and Betty Jackson. Simon Ward, the head of operations at London Fashion Week, tells The Times: 'The whole model health issue has been around for the last 12 months. Now we have a report coming out, it seemed right to match that in writing with the contract.'


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