Anna Wintour, Michael Kors, and Natalia Vodianova Discussed Eating Disorders in Boston

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Photo: Eric Ryan/Getty Images, Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Though Anna Wintour attends the CFDA's panel talks on model health and body image in the fashion industry, held in New York every season before Fashion Week, she doesn't speak on them. But last night — in Boston, at Harvard Business School — she spoke about eating disorders on a panel with Michael Kors and Natalia Vodianova. Nearly 1,000 people went to hear them speak at the event, which raised $150,000 for the Harris Center, an eating-disorder clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital. From the Boston Globe:

“The models were so frightened of recrimination and that they wouldn’t be booked for shoots or shows that they didn’t want to talk about what everybody knew was going on,’’ Wintour said in an interview before the panel discussion. “Creating guidelines within the industry to know what to do when they see a girl with a problem was an important first step. What we’ve been doing with discussions like this one is making sure that the message gets out there to everyone.’’


Michael Kors pledged to no longer work with models under the age of 16, hoping to keep what he called the industry's "army of children" from proliferating.

“I think super-young girls used to be the exception,’’ Kors said at a reception before the panel discussion. “There’s always been a Twiggy, or a model who is very young. But they were few and far between. Now, they’re completely common. That’s something I see as a huge problem.’’


Vodianova said many models probably develop eating disorders because they're so young.

“Their sense of self-worth is handed over to a bunch of people who don’t care about their self-esteem,’’ she said.


But youth is on the way out, according to Kors.

“The fashion industry is starting to address real women again,’’ Kors said, prompting applause from the audience. “Adults are in vogue. What a shock. This show season really was about the return of the adult in every city. . . . The emphasis in fashion is shifting toward an emphasis on real women who are women, not girls. The reality is that women who buy designer clothes are 30-plus. The visual has to match the reality. Girls dressed up in their mother’s clothes? Guess what, it’s not attractive.’’


That said, we still saw plenty of very young, very thin girls on the fall runways. Those models are still landing plenty of ad campaigns, as well. It will surely take another season or three to see if fashion's embrace of womanhood will stick around for a little while.

But what does seem to be catching on is Boston, where many seminal fashion events have occurred recently. It's home to the bathtub where Gisele had her baby, Gisele calls herself a "Bostonian," the CEO of Macy's went there to talk about Beyoncé, and now Anna Wintour has gone to talk about eating disorders, one of the most fascinating things she could talk about. Is Boston having a fashion moment? Perhaps. But Gisele did say she didn't leave her apartment there for six weeks: "Too cold."

At fashion forum, Kors unveils new age limit [Boston Globe]