Last week, Chanel and Fendi creative director Karl Lagerfeld said he’d had enough of the #MeToo movement. Now, the Model Alliance has had enough of Lagerfeld.
“A girl complained [a man] tried to pull [a model’s] pants down and he is instantly excommunicated from a profession that up until then had venerated him. It’s unbelievable,” Lagerfeld said in an interview with Numero Magazine. “If you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model! Join a nunnery, there’ll always be a place for you in the convent. They’re recruiting even!”
As women continue to come forward in the entertainment and fashion industries, speaking out about enduring years of sexual misconduct at the hands of men, 84-year-old Lagerfeld said he’s “fed up” with the number of models claiming years of harassment.
“What shocks me most in all of this are the starlets who have taken 20 years to remember what happened. Not to mention the fact there are no prosecution witnesses,” Lagerfeld says, labeling models as “stupid” and “sordid creatures”. “All their accusations of harassment, they have become quite toxic.”
His claims mocking models and the #MeToo movement didn’t go unheard.
Sara Ziff, the founder of the Model Alliance, a fashion-industry group dedicated to putting protections in place against sexual abuse and eating disorder pressures, calls Lagerfeld’s statement a “flippant dismissal” of sexual harassment and abuse in the fashion industry. And she said she’s not surprised by the fashion designer’s comments.
In an open letter posted to the Alliance’s website, Ziff wrote, “While the industry has previously met such remarks with tacit acceptance, this much is clear: attitudes like Lagerfeld’s carry the day no longer.”
“While not surprising, Lagerfeld’s assertion that models should ‘join a nunnery’ if they don’t want their pants pulled down is, nonetheless, outrageous,” she added, referencing Lagerfeld’s past offensive remarks which include body shaming women over their weight and appearance.
“The Model Alliance and its allies refuse to tolerate bullying or abuse — be it physical or verbal — in our industry. The fashion industry should be a place where creativity and self-expression flourishes, and where everyone is treated with dignity and respect on the job. Times have changed — and, with it, fashion’s moral standing and accountability must as well.”
Despite his criticism of the current climate, Lagerfeld said he “cannot stand” disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein whose accusers led the charge of the Time’s Up movement.
The problem with the movement, Lagerfeld added, is that it’s too hard on fashion designers and the very nature of modelling.
“I read somewhere that now you must ask a model if she is comfortable with posing,” the German fashion designer continued. “It’s simply too much, from now on, as a designer, you can’t do anything.”