Balenciaga’s former casting agents are hitting back after accusations that they were abusing models during screenings.
Earlier this week, casting director James Scully called out agents Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes for making 150 models “wait in a stairwell, told them they would have to stay over 3 hours to be seen, and not to leave.” He also called Maida and Rami “serial abusers” as they’ve allegedly done this multiple times.
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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
“What Maida and Rami did, they have been doing for a long time,” James tells Business of Fashion. “They are the king and queen of abuse. I’ve heard stories from girls who were left waiting for so long without food or water that they ordered a pizza, and Maida came out and started shouting at them and calling them pigs.”
Last December, James said during Business of Fashion’s annual gathering VOICES that the next time he saw any evidence of bullying in the fashion industry, he will expose it on social media.
Meanwhile, Balenciaga immediately made “radical changes” and cut their ties with Maida and Rami. They’ve also written apologies to the models’ respective agencies.
“Balenciaga condemns this incident and will continue to be deeply committed to ensure the most respectful working conditions for the models. From now on we will hold casting in our showroom like we always did in the past seasons,” Balenciaga chief executive Cédric Charbit says.
Maida, on the other hand, called the accusations “inaccurate and libelous. “It is important to stop the spread of rumours and set the record straight,” Maida tells BoF via email. “To directly address these accusations, the models did not wait for three hours in the dark, not even one hour. We personally ate our lunch in the casting facility and—without question—we did not lock the models in the stairwell and turn out the lights. That would be completely inhumane. Throughout the entire process, we provided the most comfortable accommodations allowable based on the facilities provided.”
However, this is hard to believe especially since models like Doutzen Krous, Candice Swanepoel, Linda Vojtova, and Joan Smalls praised James’ post. They’ve also voiced their concerns in the comments.[Business of Fashion]
Photo courtesy of Independent