Last night loads of leggy models–A-listers like Shalom Harlow, Doutzen Kroes, Coco Rocha and Crystal Renn among them–gathered at the Standard in the Meatpacking to sip free vodka drinks over loud music. At first glance, a typical fashion party.
Only it wasn’t. These models were gathered to celebrate the launch of the Model Alliance, a non-profit organization founded by Sara Ziff dedicated to “helping models in the American fashion industry organize for safe, fair, and healthy standards in their workplace.”
29-year-old Ziff knows something about how models are treated. She’s spent more than half of her life working as a model and in that time says, “It just became more and more evident to me that this was a wonderful industry filled with strong, powerful, creative women but which lacked any regulation–and so was putting very young girls, often children, in compromising situations.” She learned a lot more about the compromising situations models find themselves in–facing sexual harassment, in severe debt to their agencies due to lack of financial transparency, alone and vulnerable and often without a chaperone–while documenting the plight of other models for her documentary, Picture Me, which debuted in 2010. Fordham Law professor Susan Scafidi, who heads up Fordham’s Fashion Law Institute, saw a screening and wanted to help. So did Jezebel’s fashion writer (and former model herself), Jenna Sauers. And so the wheels for the Model Alliance were set in motion.