Marc Jacobs Challenges CFDA Ban on Underage Models

Marc Jacobs

Photo: Imaxtree

Ondria Hardin and Thairine Garcia at the Marc Jacobs Fall 2012 show

Looks like Marc Jacobs and the Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA) don't see eye to eye on the controversial underage model issue.

Though last month CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg reiterated her recommendation that designers only hire models who are least 16 years of age, Jacobs' Fall 2012 show featured two catwalkers who were underage, Eric Wilson of The New York Times reports.

Teen models Thairine Garcia, listed as 14, and Ondria Hardin, a 15-year-old "veteran" who walked the designer's Spring 2012 show at age 14, were among the 50 models who modeled Jacobs' madcap collection.

Both are represented by Ford Models, which has been one of the lone modeling agencies to defy the CFDA guidelines, which, it should be said, are not mandatory.

“We take the age and maturity of our models very seriously," the agency says. "We work on a case-by-case basis alongside a prospective model’s parents to make a determination as to whether they are ready to walk the runway.”

Jacobs, who insists that Garcia and Hardin were accompanied by chaperones, is equally unapologetic about continuing to work with younger models.

"I do the show the way I think it should be and not the way somebody tells me it should be," he told Wilson backstage. 

"If their parents are willing to let them do a show, I don’t see any reason that it should be me who tells them that they can’t … There are children actors and children models for catalogs and stuff, so I guess if a parent thinks it’s okay and a kid wants to do it, it’s fine.”

And though it stands by its assertion that teen models need extra protection, the CFDA does agree with Jacobs on one point: It's his call.

"The guidelines are suggested recommendations," CFDA chief executive Steven Kolb says in a statement. 

"They are not mandatory requirements. Each season we hope designers will follow them but it is really up to the designers to decide.”