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Health Certificates "Unworkable," Model Health Inquiry Says

British Fashion Council considers agencies key to safeguard the health of models.

Marios Schwab Fall 2008 London

Marios Schwab, Fall 2008 London

Photo By Giovanni Giannoni

LONDON – Models at London Fashion Week next month won’t have to produce a health certificate before they get up on the runway.

Hilary Riva, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, said in an open letter that its year-long Model Health inquiry deems certificates “an unworkable solution.”

“From our conversations with our international counterparts in New York, Milan and Paris it has become clear that they do not recognize the need for an international health certificate,” Riva wrote.

She added that the inquiry’s panel also found that the questionnaire which models would have to complete to obtain a certificate would be “intimidating and invasive,” and that the cost to models and the time it takes to obtain a certificate would prevent many models, particularly those not based in the U.K., from working in London.

Instead, Riva said that the BFC has asked the U.K.’s Association of Model Agents to develop a way to safeguard the health of models through the agencies it represents.

“The agencies see and speak to their models on a regular basis and are best placed to identify early…signs of any health issues,” said Riva.

The inquiry already bars models under 16 from walking in shows during London Fashion Week and requires that London shows have healthy backstage environments.

Riva added in the letter that the inquiry is mulling a “Healthier Model Program,” which she said would require public funding. The council is awaiting government feedback.

Meanwhile, Riva said the BFC plans to develop a Web site that will provide advice for models and those interested in the modeling industry, with links to Web sites about eating disorders.

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