I’m sure we’ve all seen over time that the fashion industry is a fickle business to be involved in.
No one knows this better than those who are immersed in the business, particularly the clothes horses or coathangers (aka the models) themselves. Their role of promoting new and upcoming designers is dictated by those higher above them in the chain of command, and while the life appears glamorous, we have learnt through narrative experiences that it is anything but.
These memoirs, written by French ex-model Victoire Dauxerre, paint a disturbing picture of the trade, especially considering she only had a very short (yet relatively productive) run as an elite model. Discovered on the street at 17 years of age while out shopping with her mother, Victoire signed up with the Elite modelling agency in Paris. Within months, she was travelling to all the fashion hotspots, attending castings, photo shoots, campaigns and shows.
Her first major triumph (only a few months after signing up as a model), involved walking the catwalk for several designers at New York Fashion Week. But this ‘honour’ came at a cost. While she was now in a select group of the twenty most in-demand models in the world, she was also feeling the pressure to conform to the ridiculous standards set by the fashion industry. Already a tiny UK size 4, she was encouraged by ruthless designers, photographers and industry figures to drop even more weight, and become even thinner if she wanted to maintain their approval and keep getting jobs. Shrinking to suit their needs, she quickly started to see food and exercise as the enemy, living on a diet of apples, laxatives and enemas, and in a constant state of hunger. She started to show all the symptoms of anorexia- including significant weight loss, always feeling cold and having a distinct lack of energy- yet no one showed any concern about her spiralling health, and instead told her how incredible she looked. Even her own family (who admittedly saw far less of her), didn’t try to get help for her during these months, although they did try to encourage her to eat a little more.
Although she realised that she was doing damage to her body, Victoire was also determined (at the beginning) to succeed in the business, particularly when she found out that her academic results were not sufficient for further study at the time. As a result, she decided to use her looks rather than her brain to make a career, and it wasn’t until she started to become disillusioned with the business that she looked more seriously at leaving it, and becoming the actress she always wanted to be.
This is a raw and easy-to-read account on how the fashion industry objectifies and uses young people (particularly women) to market their products and sell their wares. These memoirs highlight the poisonous stances on body image that are so prevalent and show how the glamour and beauty of the fashion industry is nothing more than a façade for a more dangerous occupation.
Published: February 2017