Vogue's Health Initiative has proven to be more difficult to abide by than its editors may have thought.
About one week ago, we called Vogue China out on possibly using an underage model in its August issue, which came out three months after the Health Initiative and its ban on models under 16 was announced. The model Ondria Hardin's agent would not tell us her birthdate. But, today, Vogue UK confirms she was indeed 15 at the time she was shot for the mag.
Vogue China EIC Angelica Cheung conceded the issue was prepared before the Health Initiative was announced, telling Vogue UK,
It happened under our radar, and we are truly sorry. We will make sure it doesn't happen again.
Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and chief executive of Condé Nast International, also apologized, saying:
The Health Initiative banning underage models is very serious, and we will reinforce it. I apologise for the error which took place in China. We will do everything possible to prevent future errors.
Vogue UK also revealed that another underage model had been shot for an "advertising promotion shoot" set to run in a future issue of Japanese Vogue, but it's been pulled due to the model's age.
To prevent future "mistakes," the Vogues are enforcing more rigorous steps to keep under-16 models out of their pages, including requiring model agencies to provide "documentary proof of the ages of models who are not well known."
The article ends with the following clarification about how these rules apply to actual children:
Condé Nast officials pointed out that occasionally a Vogue will publish an article or supplement devoted to children's apparel, and that the ban on young models did not apply to articles about children dressed appropriately in children's clothing.
We're guessing that Vogue Paris spread with Thylane Blondeau dressed provocatively in clothing and makeup intended for adults would not hold up under that rule.
The gaffe shows that Vogue editors were probably not paying as close attention to the Health Initiative guidelines as they could have, but also that, as we suspected, models' ages are not always easy to confirm. Hopefully these new requirements, if followed, will make it easier.