updated 16 May 2012, 19:54
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Wed, Nov 16, 2011
The New Paper
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Red faces over models' ages
by Benita Aw Yeong, Maureen Koh

Reality TV star Kylie Jenner is only 14, but her turn at the catwalk recently drew knives from critics. In an industry that prizes youth, under-16 models are treated with kid gloves in Singapore, and discouraged from runways in the West.

They are not officially allowed on the fashion runways of New York.

Yet underage models have been popping up at shows, walking for some of the top names in the business despite guidelines that forbid the practice.

This prompted the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) to send a reminder in Augustthat designers ensure models produce valid identification on the day they walk the runway.

It is not the first time the not-for-profit trade organisation has issued such guidelines, but past attempts have met with little success.

In 2007, the CFDA recommended that models under 16 be kept off the runways, and that those under 18 be prohibited from working for photoshoots and fittings past midnight.

The guidelines, part of a push for healthier models in the industry, were not binding.

The most recent crackdown came after underage models appeared on the runways of several designers - reportedly because the designers themselves were kept in the dark about their models' actual ages.

CFDA's president, designer Diane Von Furstenberg, found herself in a sticky situation when she accidentally cast 16-year-old model Hailey Clauson in one of her fashion shows in February this year.

Hailey, whose birthday is in March, was 15 when she walked for the show.

Ms Von Furstenberg, who had been campaigning against hiring models under 16, apologised to the council, saying she was "horrified and embarrassed" for letting the 15-year-old appear on the show.

Then in August, Hailey's parents sued clothing line Urban Outfitters for using photos of their daughter, also taken when she was 15, on T-shirts and other apparel manufactured by the brand.

They claimed that permission to use the image, which featured Hailey clad in skimpy leather shorts with her legs spread, had not been given.

In the same month, controversy raged over 10-year-old model Thylane Loubry Blondeau's saucy photo spread, which appeared in the January edition of French Vogue.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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