Paris Fashion Week has been abuzz with rumors of model mistreatment at a casting for the Balenciaga runway show. The controversy went wide yesterday when James Scully, another casting director with a reputation for sounding off on the sins of the fashion industry, took to Instagram to publicly air the accusations.
"I was very disturbed to hear from a number of girls this morning that yesterday at the Balenciaga casting Madia & Ramy (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," wrote Sully. "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."
Notably, Scully heard the story second-hand from the models, who have not come forward publicly yet meaning it is still unclear as to exactly what happened. However, Balenciaga has now released a statement confirming that not only did something beyond the pale occur, but that the Kering-owned house cut ties with the casting directors in question, Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes.
"On Sunday, February 26th Balenciaga took notice of issues with the model castings carried out on that day," read a statement from the company released to The Cut and other publications. "The House reacted immediately, making radical changes to the casting process, including discontinuing the relationship with the current casting agency."
"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."
This past December, Scully, whose credits include shows for Tom Ford and Jason Wu, gave a talk at Business of Fashion's VOICES confab in England in which he spoke out against the mistreatment of models within the industry.
"[The fashion industry is] so much more sadistic and so much more mean than you can believe," he said at the time. He noted that he felt empowered after the talk to continue to speak up when he heard about injustice.
Though, even before the Instagram post, Scully had criticized the other casting directors before.
Boina and Fernandes had been responsible for casting a number of high-profile shows that only used white models. When the duo's work for Dior Fall 2013 show resulted in a catwalk that was 90 percent white, Scully told BuzzFeed, "I feel the Dior cast is just so pointedly white that it feels deliberate. I watch that show and it bothers me — I almost can’t even concentrate on the clothes because of the cast."
Balenciaga's creative director Demna Gvasalia had also been criticized for using an exclusively white cast in his first show for the house last year, but course corrected, sending out a relatively diverse set of models for his last show in the fall.
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