Known for advocating for better working conditions for models (see his Business of Fashion talk on diversity below), casting director James Scully made a big stir with an Instagram post yesterday, calling out Balenciaga for hiring “serial abusers” Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes to cast their show.
Scully said the models attending the Balenciaga go-see were forced to wait up to three hours in a dark staircase before being seen, a wait caused in part because the directors had gone out to lunch. Some were so traumatized by the treatment they let their agencies known they wouldn’t attend go-sees for Hermès and Elie Saab, which are also cast by Boina and Fernandes.
In the same post, Scully also said he had heard rumors Lanvin had told agencies it wasn’t interested in seeing black models. “I have heard from several agents, some of whom are black that they have received mandate from Lanvin that they do not want to be presented with women of color,” wrote Scully, “And another big house is trying to sneak 15-year olds into Paris!”
Owned by publicly-traded fashion house Kering, Balenciaga responded swiftly to the post, sending a note to press letting it be known the two casting agents had been fired along with notes of apology to the models’ agencies.
Lanvin on the other hand went into full denial mode. “These allegations are completely false and baseless,” said Lanvin spokesperson Sophie Boilley.
In regards to the French label’s recent history in terms of casting women of color, for its spring 2017 runway, Lanvin showed 49 looks, two of which were modeled by black women. Update: Lanvin showed its fall 2017 runway today (March 1, 2017) and out of 42 looks, two were modeled by black women.
Scully’s post was full of comments from models who praised him for speaking out. “Preach. Also you should be casting more just to bring more justice and equality to this industry,” wrote Joan Smalls.
So true to my promise at #bofvoices that I would be a voice for any models, agents or all who see things wrong with this business I’m disappointed to come to Paris and hear that the usual suspects are up to the same tricks. I was very disturbed to hear from a number of girls this morning that yesterday at the Balenciaga casting Madia & Ramy (serial abusers) held a casting in which they made over 150 girls wait in a stairwell told them they would have to stay over 3 hours to be seen and not to leave. In their usual fashion they shut the door went to lunch and turned off the lights, to the stairs leaving every girl with only the lights of their phones to see. Not only was this sadistic and cruel it was dangerous and left more than a few of the girls I spoke with traumatized. Most of the girls have asked to have their options for Balenciaga cancelled as well as Hermes and Ellie Saab who they also cast for because they refuse to be treated like animals. Balenciaga part of Kering it is a public company and these houses need to know what the people they hire are doing on their behalf before a well deserved law suit comes their way. On top of that I have heard from several agents, some of whom are black that they have received mandate from Lanvin that they do not want to be presented with women of color. And another big house is trying to sneak 15 year olds into paris! It’s inconceivable to me that people have no regard for human decency or the lives and feelings of these girls, especially when too too many of these models are under the age of 18 and clearly not equipped to be here but god forbid well sacrifice anything or anyone for an exclusive right? If this behavior continues it’s gonna be a long cold week in paris. Please keep sharing your stories with me and I will continue to to share them for you. It seems to be the only way we can force change and give the power back to you models and agents where it rightfully belongs. And I encourage any and all to share this post #watchthisspace
James Scully Business of Fashion interview on industry issues related to diversity