Creative Director and Senior Vice President
Nian Fish has produced runway shows for fashion heavy hitters like Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Chloe, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Zac Posen, and many others. With thirty years of experience under her belt, she proudly owns her status as a senior member of the fashion industry. We talked to Nian about her new role as chair of the CFDA Health Initiative.
Q: What drew you to the CFDA Health Initiative?
Nian: I suffered from eating disorders for years when I was a dancer. I have always been very vocal about these problems in the fashion industry, so when Anna Wintour started talking about organizing something months ago, my name came up. I give a lot of credit to Anna and Steven Kolb (Executive Director of the CFDA) for their leadership.
Q: You are particularly passionate about ensuring that the industry follows your age recommendations: not hiring models under the age of sixteen for runway shows and not allowing models under eighteen to work past midnight. Why do you think this one is so important?
Nian: I've observed that models have been getting younger and younger. I remember when we would see women on the runway! Today we see girls. Runway work is high pressure, and it can be a 24-hour job. To protect the physical and emotional well-being of models, we need to agree that it is not healthy for girls to be working in that environment for those kinds of hours. Models also must be fully aware that when you choose this job, you are choosing a job where you are the commodity. You need to have a strong sense of self and a solid support system to make that choice.
Q: Aside from following the guidelines, what is one thing that everyone in the industry can do to promote healthy fashion and beauty?
Nian: We can stop the misogynistic conversations that spread through the grapevine when models gain weight. We should not be treating models like outcasts when they put on a few pounds. We all know this happens, and we all have the power to change it. We need to treat models with respect.
Q: What do you say to critics?
Nian: I am a glass is half full person. At the same time, I understand that people have strong opinions and this is an emotional issue. Do I think the fashion industry is the cause of eating disorders? No. Do I think we contribute to the problem? Yes, I do. Now we can start contributing in a positive way. This is not going to be solved overnight, but I have already seen the industry's eyes changing.
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