After the models arrived in their droves, for what was the craziest model casting session Vauxhall Fashion Scout has ever seen, we thought it was only right that we give something back...

After the saddening news of the forced closure of the safe-haven that is the Model Sanctuary- the spotlight has been on the welfare of the hundreds of long legged guys and girls that will be parading up and down the catwalks at London Fashion Week. Model Equity is a long standing union who has recently partnered with the Association of Model Agents, the British Fashion Council, and the Greater London Authority to create  the Model Programme  for London Fashion Week (LFW)

Model Equity were at the model casting providing support and a chance to speak to the models before everything really kicks off tomorrow for London Fashion Week. 

Our amazing blog editor Cass Gowing interviewed Victoria Keon-Cohen at Model Equity about the up and downs or fashion week, the Model Equity plans for this season's models and how the company plans to progress in the future... 

Vauxhall Fashion Scout: Hi Victoria, Thank you so much for being part of Vauxhall Fashion Scout's Model Casting. For those that don't know - What is your ethos as a company?

Victoria: Our aim in establishing models’ representation at Equity is to foster an environment where equality, education and protection are central values. We are working to implement proper regulations to protect models, young and old, male and female, foreign and those based in London for a safer and healthier workplace.


VFS: Model Equity, alongside the Association of Model Agents, the British Fashion Council, and the Greater London Authority, has created the ‘Model Programme’ for London Fashion Week. Briefly, what is the ‘Model Programme’?

V: The Model Programme was put together as a response to the Model Health Inquiry. Its first success has been the Code of Conduct. This was negotiated between Equity the BFC, AMA and Mayors office as the first transparent document which has had models exerting their rights directly to it. 
Previously models workplace conditions were decided between the client and the agency, with the model having absolutely no say in their own treatment. It is a solid foundation block and myself, as Chair and the Equity Models’ Committee are working to build on it.


VFS: How do models and companies benefit from it?

V: When a model joins Equity, he or she starts the process of taking proper control overt their working lives. This proves that they are aware an intern can exert their rights. 
Personal benefits provided for each individual member by Equity is access to counsellors, nutritionists, legal advice and representation, accounting/tax advice, £10,000 injury compensation insurance (for any injury on/off a job). 
The greater benefits are having the Models committee as a representative body of the members who work co-operatively with the industry on all our members behalf to tackle issues that affect us all. These could be implementing a minimum age, racism, having a closed backstage environment, ensuring pay, food and nudity clauses are all part of creating a future where we are no longer overshadowed by doubt and a lack of accountability.


VFS: Why is this code of conduct so important at London Fashion Week?

V: It is the first transparent document where through Equity models have asserted their own rights and therefore a foundation block for expansion.  
It has clauses for nudity, minimum rates which increase on how successful the designer is (instead of decreasing or being expected to work for “prestige”), it stipulates what breaks and for how long we are entitled to, ensures adequate food is provided, controls the backstage environment from unscrupulous photographers, ensures models get the basic rights which are taken for granted in other professions.


VFS: How do you feel about the recent closure of Model Sanctury?

V: Its tragic and a real disappointment but an opportunity for to be re-opened by the London fashion industry to demonstrate how much they support models occupational health.


VFS: What is your experience of casting for LFW?

V: I have opted out of doing shows this season to concentrate on Equity  but my previous experience is that London is a big city, it takes an hour to get from east to west but its got big opportunities. 
Its exhausting, emotionally draining, frustrating, exciting, thrilling to see old friends and a general roller coaster.


VFS: The female model casting for LFW took place this week, how did it go?

V: Rachel was the recruiter at that day but I went to the boys casting. Boys who are often forgotten about fashion week are just as much an important entity as the girls. 
I went in, gave them all a 10 second intro to Equity, bang, bang, bang - they had the truth direct and straight to them. They loved it. I got all 134 emails in the queue that I worked my way down of male models who want to be informed about their union, Equity. 
It’s refreshing in our industry to be told the straight and honest truth about something reliable.


VFS: What’s next for Model Equity?

V: We have a few avenues we are pushing but our main 3 for the moment are:
- Equity is now working on expanding the Code of Conduct to the photographic environments. We are therefore looking for brands/magazines/individuals who support models joining Equity to come forward and we can work together to ensure our workplace environments are the best they can be.
- We are also pushing for a further regulatory framework to ensure the minimum age for models is 16.
- We are always furthering recruitment and expanding on our 787 members of today.

For more information on Model Equity, visit their website by clicking here.

Cass Gowing, VFS Blog Editor

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