Casting director James Scully posted to Instagram yesterday alleging that Balenciaga's casting agents Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes had abused models, making them wait in a stairwell for more than 3 hours during a casting. Calling the pair "serial abusers," Scully wrote that they "shut the door, went to lunch and turned off the lights," leaving all the models 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," he wrote, adding that several models cancelled because they "refuse to be treated like animals."
Beyond Balenciaga's controversy, the fashion whistleblower revealed that several agents told him they "recevied a mandate from Lanvin that they do not want to be presented with women of color." He also alleged that a number of big houses are "trying to sneak 15-year-olds into paris," saying that it's shocking to him 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 not equipped to be here." If this behavior continues, "it's going to be a long cold week in Paris," he adds.
Since Scully's report, which spread rapidly online, Balenciaga has fired their casting directors, releasing a full statement announcing that they'd discontinued their relationship. "The House reacted immediately, making radical changes to the casting process, including discontinuing the relationship with the current casting agency," the Parisian fashion house said. "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."
Lanvin has yet to make an official statement addressing Scully's allegations, though the casting director spoke with Vogueabout the problematic root of fashion's whitewashing and changes he'd like to see in the modeling industry. "We can't treat these girls like they're disposable," he said. "They're treated like things that can be traded and have no feelings. Someone has been called out now; nobody believed someone would do it, whether it was me or someone else. Now that the girls have been given a voice, I think it's time to continue."
In December 2016, Scully delivered a powerful address to Business of Fashion, speaking to fashion's bullying, cruelty and discrimination of models. "[The fashion industry is] so much more sadistic and so much more mean than you can believe," he said, asking the audience to "support girls more and stop treating them like Tinder swipes." Watch Scully's call to action, below.