Balenciaga fires casting agents amid reports of mistreatment of models
Balenciaga has cut ties with its casting agents after they were accused of mistreating models during a casting event.
As Paris Fashion Week kicks off, reports have emerged of unprofessional behaviour occurring as models were being chosen to appear in the brand’s upcoming presentation in the French capital.
Casting director James Scully, who has worked for the likes of Tom Ford and Stella McCartney, took to Instagram to share a lengthy post on claims made about casting duo Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes, who have previously come under fire for casting all white models for a Dior show.
"I'm disappointed to come to Paris and hear that the usual suspects are up to the same tricks," he wrote on his page. "I was very disturbed to hear from a number of girls this morning that yesterday at the Balenciaga casting Madia & Ramy (sic) (serial abusers) held a casting in which they made over 150 girls wait in a stairwell told them they would have to stay over 3 hours to be seen and not to leave.
So true to my promise at #bofvoices that I would be a voice for any models, agents or all who see things wrong with this business I'm disappointed to come to Paris and hear that the usual suspects are up to the same tricks. I was very disturbed to hear from a number of girls this morning that yesterday at the Balenciaga casting Madia & Rami (serial abusers) held a casting in which they made over 150 girls wait in a stairwell told them they would have to stay over 3 hours to be seen and not to leave. In their usual fashion they shut the door went to lunch and turned off the lights, to the stairs leaving every girl with only the lights of their phones to see. Not only was this sadistic and cruel it was dangerous and left more than a few of the girls I spoke with traumatized. Most of the girls have asked to have their options for Balenciaga cancelled as well as Hermes and Ellie Saab who they also cast for because they refuse to be treated like animals. Balenciaga part of Kering it is a public company and these houses need to know what the people they hire are doing on their behalf before a well deserved law suit comes their way. On top of that I have heard from several agents, some of whom are black that they have received mandate from Lanvin that they do not want to be presented with women of color. And another big house is trying to sneak 15 year olds into paris! It's inconceivable to me that people have no regard for human decency or the lives and feelings of these girls, especially when too too many of these models are under the age of 18 and clearly not equipped to be here but god forbid well sacrifice anything or anyone for an exclusive right? If this behavior continues it's gonna be a long cold week in paris. Please keep sharing your stories with me and I will continue to to share them for you. It seems to be the only way we can force change and give the power back to you models and agents where it rightfully belongs. And I encourage any and all to share this post #watchthisspace
"In their usual fashion they shut the door went to lunch and turned off the lights, to the stairs leaving every girl with only the lights of their phones to see."
He added that many of the girls he spoke to after the event were “traumatised” by the "sadistic and cruel" treatment they had been subjected to. Furthermore, he noted some models requested their options for Balenciaga to be cancelled, as well as those for Hermes and Elie Saab, who also use the casting duo.
Balenciaga, helmed by Demna Gvasalia, has issued a statement on the issue, in which they confirmed they have cut ties with Boina and Fernandes due to their unacceptable behaviour.
"On Sunday, February 26th Balenciaga took notice of issues with the model castings carried out on that day. The House reacted immediately, making radical changes to the casting process, including discontinuing the relationship with the current casting agency,” the statement, released to The Cut, reads.
"Additionally, Balenciaga sent a written apology to the agencies of the models who were affected by this specific situation, asking them to share it with them. Balenciaga condemns this incident and will continue to be deeply committed to ensure the most respectful working conditions for the models."
A representative for Elie Saab also showed concern for what had happened, insisting the label takes the health and wellbeing of its models extremely seriously.