Moment 94: The Skinny

In the modeling world, what constitutes “thin” has fluctuated; curvier models were phased out after Kate Moss triggered the waif trend—and a media backlash.

Curvy models have started to make a comeback as on Louis Vuitton’s fall 2010 runway Spain banned models that were deemed too thin in 2006 Here a runway look from the Spanish designer Lemoniez
Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD 100 issue 11/01/2010

In the modeling world, thin has always been in—but what constitutes “thin” has fluctuated. In the Eighties, a curve or two was not verboten, but that all changed when newcomer Kate Moss caused a sensation in 1993 with a high-profile Calvin Klein campaign. Moss became an instant star, and the industry’s preference shifted abruptly to a fondness for the skin-and-bones waif look—one dark-eyed version was dubbed “heroin chic”— triggering a mainstream media backlash.


Although the waif trend eventually waned, the obsession with thin did not. In September 2006, models deemed too skinny were banned from Madrid Fashion Week; Milan started requiring girls to have a body mass index above 18.5. And the CFDA came up with its own Health Initiative, which addressed “the overwhelming concern about whether some models are unhealthily thin, and whether or not to impose restrictions in such cases.”


Karl Lagerfeld called efforts to legislate models’ weights “politically correct fascism.” “There are more fat people in the world than too skinny ones, and the fat ones have big, big problems,” he told WWD. Noted Stefano Gabbana, “Models have always been a certain body type—tall and thin. That’s why it’s called runway size.” However, some designers agreed with the efforts. “We all have a big responsibility with this disease,” Carolina Herrera told WWD, “because it can be found everywhere—it’s not only seen in fashion.”