Edie Campbell has called for fashion shows to provide models with private changing facilities, describing the practice of having models change in front of people as “bizarre, uncomfortable and humiliating”.
Campbell, 27, has been modelling since she was 15 years old, working with esteemed high fashion brands such as Burberry, Chanel and Alexander McQueen.
Over the years she’d become used to changing in backstage areas at fashion events surrounded by hordes of strangers including production assistants, stylists and members of the press.
However, a recent experience in New York made the 27-year-old realise how strange the lack of privacy that she’d become accustomed to really was.
“Backstage areas are very busy, there’s a lot of people there, from every part of the production of putting on a fashion show: hair and makeup, stylists, PR, the press themselves, caterers, production assistants, everyone that you can imagine,” Campbell said on BBC Radio 4 yesterday during London Fashion Week.
When asked what it was like to be naked in that sort of environment, she explained that it’s a “humiliating” aspect of the fashion industry that models often have no say in whatsoever.
“It’s sort of quite jarring and then there comes a point when it becomes very normalised for you,” she said.
“There was a moment in New York last season, so six months ago, where a lot of designers started putting up private changing areas.
“It was at that moment that I realised how bizarre and uncomfortable it was, and in a way humiliating, to have previously been encouraged to change, or been forced to change, in front of everyone.
“I think it adds to a much broader question of a dehumanisation of the model and this kind of objectification that is a symptom of a bigger problem.”
Campbell has spoken about this issue before, praising Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini in February for being the only designer brand to provide its models with private changing areas during Milan Fashion Week.
Last year, Campbell wrote an open letter in Women’s Wear Daily in which she highlighted the importance of raising awareness of the improper use of power in the fashion industry.
She explained that models are frequently made to feel humiliated by those in superior positions of power, and that they come to understand this as being “simply a part of the job”.
Campbell continued, writing about how the line between personal and professional can become blurred in the fashion world due to the casual nature of the industry.
“Work, to me, does not look like work: I undress in front of the people I work with, I travel with these people, I get drunk with them, they ask me who I’m shagging, we tell stories, we giggle, we gossip and we become part of ‘the gang’,” she wrote.
“When an industry becomes as informal as this, it becomes harder to define what is appropriate behaviour for the workplace. Pranks, sexually explicit jokes, suggestive comments – these all slide under the radar in a ‘fun’ and ‘creative’ industry like fashion.”