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Over the past year, models have become increasingly more vocal about the industry's mistreatment as social media has served as the perfect platform for professionals to voice their concerns. The most recent call-out comes from longtime model and artist Louise Parker, who took to Instagram over the weekend to recall her recent casting experience with Balenciaga. After traveling for 12 hours, sitting through a fitting and getting her hair cut, all for the French fashion house, the model's runway gig was canceled a day a later. (Demna Gvasalia debuted his Spring 2018 collection — and a new logo — for Balenciaga on Sunday.)
We've reached out to Parker and Balenciaga for comment.
"It feels great to take a 12-hour trip for a client, be fitted after waiting for hours, agree to have your hair cut for their show, only to be canceled the following day," wrote Parker on Instagram. "Now that you're finally paying attention to 'model's rights' (I also got that doctor's note to confirm a healthy BMI) maybe I'd feel better if I met with your so called therapist that's on call 24/7. Thanks for the haircut @balenciaga Thanks @kering_official #fuckyoubalenciaga#kering."
Casting director James Scully, who commented on Parker's post, has been extremely vocal about bettering the work environment for models. Earlier this year, he called out Balenciaga's former casting directors Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes as "serial abusers," as the duo were under fire for allegedly making more than 150 models wait in a dark stairwell for three hours while they went out for lunch. (The company swiftly terminated Boina and Fernandes over the allegations.)
Model Alliance founder Sara Ziff also shared her thoughts on Parker's experience, posting on the organization's Instagram with a message calling for better policy standards to improve models' working lives. "Evidently, greater clarity is needed regarding expectations for bookings," wrote Ziff. "For example, it would be reasonable for a model to be confirmed for a job in writing before she is required to change her appearance."
UPDATE, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 8:30 a.m.: Parker shared an open letter to Balenciaga and Kering with The Cut on Monday evening:
"I chose to post about this on Instagram and write about this here not because I want sympathy, or think that this is a unique situation (because it’s not, far worse things happen to models every day), but because I am tired of being treated this way. If you don't work in the industry, it might be hard to relate, but imagine this in the context of having virtually no control over your working life, where your body and image is your currency, where you constantly feel disposable, and where you’re often left in the dark, bending to powerful clients. I know you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you, but reaching out through social media helped me take back some of the power and control I felt I had lost."
Parker recalls that after her fitting with Balenciaga's stylist and designer, her decision to agree to get her hair cut "felt like an ultimatum." Her chosen look was pulled and relocated off the floor — "an indication that my look had been 'validated,'" says Parker — but she was never truly confirmed for the runway show. Later that evening, Parker agreed to cut her hair even shorter, but the following day, she learned from her agent that she was cut from the show because "she does not fit the line up."
Balenciaga also provided comment with The Cut in an email:
"Balenciaga is sincerely sorry for the disappointment of Louise Parker for not being confirmed for the Women SS 2018 show in Paris. The House regrets that there seemed to have been a misunderstanding between Louise Parker and her agent about the fact that flying her for a ‘go & see’, fitting does not mean she would be confirmed. A ‘go & see’ or fitting never means that the model is confirmed for a show."
Parker's agency has requested that Balenciaga provide payment for the rate of the show, although Parker would rather have the French fashion house donate it towards the Model Alliance on her behalf. "This is not about money, it never was," says Parker. "It’s about feeling taken advantage of and after years of grinning and bearing it, wanting your voice to be heard."
Homepage image: Louise Parker. Photo: @louiseparker/Instagram