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In the spirit of NYFW, one website has decided to dedicate the week to stories illuminating the fashion industry's darker side. Today's comes from a woman who spent a week as a "dresser" in a showroom. The piece was supposed to leave the brand anonymous, but its author, Lacy Warner, Instagrammed a link to the story with the caption: "Hey gang I've got a story up on Narratively! It's about that job I had as a dresser for Marc Jacobs! Please read—there are lots of naked models!" So much for that.
Her account of the week spent working in the Marc Jacobs showroom is shocking, to say the least. On her first day, the supermodel who was representing the brand at the time came in to try on a look and Warner helped her to get dressed. While zipping her up, Warner saw signs of a severe eating disorder apparent on the model's body:
I reached into the skirt, using my hands to form a circle so she could step into the dress. I realized that my hands could fit entirely around her waist. I had to zip very carefully in order not to let the metal snag her skin. My fingers inched their way up her back and that's when I saw it. Her entire back was covered in light brown hair. It was downy and when it caught the light it shimmered. I wanted to touch it, to feel the soft fur beneath my fingertips, but I knew better. This was not simply "unsightly" body hair; this was what health teachers warn about when they describe the symptoms of severe eating disorders. When a body is dangerously underweight it grows a type of hair, called "lanugo," out of a primal instinct to maintain warmth.The next day, things didn't get any better:
The sweater I had been folding cost $1,200. When I looked at it, all I saw was a list of things I could do with that much money: pay rent, get my sofa reupholstered, breathe easy this month. The last thing I would have purchased would have been that sweater. The executive took my hesitation to mean that I didn't think it was wearable. "That's it then, no one will buy this thing. We'll have to raise the price." She turned to her assistant, "It's sixty-five from now on."Then she spent some time getting to know one of the showroom models, who had some advice to share:
I grabbed Victoria [the intern] and asked if it was really possible that they changed the price from $1,200 to $6,500. She shrugged her shoulders and said that there is a specific type of customer who buys items based completely on the price. This customer doesn't care what the item looks like; they simply want the most expensive piece.
"There's so much ugliness in this business. Believe me: I worked through heroin chic, and that was not a trend, but a reality. Still, I have to be grateful because no one has been as kind and as supportive as this company." I nodded again, this time not in suspicion but in solidarity.Yikes.
We went upstairs and I zipped her into the last look of the day: the dreaded bauble dress. She turned to me and said, "I feel like I should strap pads around my ankles to protect them. Lord knows in this place everyone would think it was genius."
· The Secret Life of a Fashion Week Peon [Narratively]
· Anonymous Tipsters Say Nasty Gal's Work Environment Is Terrible [Racked]
· Gossip, Money, Bloggers: A Hard Look at rewardStyle [Racked]