Paris Runways Finally See Some Model Diversity—But Is This “Shock” Casting?

When it comes to size discrimination in the fashion industry, Paris—a place where French women (apparently) don’t get fat—has a particularly stuffy reputation and preference for the pin thin. The fashion capital may be loosening its ideals, however. Designer Karl Lagerfeld has shown particular fondness for Crystal Renn lately, and Louis Vuitton’s last presentation used models that looked closer to “real women,” although this is debatable depending on your standards. This Fashion Week saw an additional slight move in this direction with different body types on the runway. Plus-sized singer Beth Ditto opened Jean Paul-Gaultier’s show, while Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquiere interspersed his models with women he had found by scouring crowds in Australia and Belgium. Additionally, Inès de la Fressange, a past Chanel fit model now in her 50s, while not necessarily “curvy,” but certainly not a 14-year-old waif, will walk in Chanel’s show tomorrow.

It’s hard to say whether these so-called changes are doing anything to ease harsh body stereotypes. Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman is of the opinion that this “unconventional” model casting functions more as “shock” casting. “Instead of a fuss being made about a few cause célèbre exceptions on the catwalk, what I’d really like instead is for most models to be a [British] size 10 rather than a size eight,” she told the Guardian. What do you think? Does flashy press about curvy models help at all? Or should there just be a sweeping change across all runways? [Guardian]