satirical sisley advertisement via adsneeze *
Well it seems the fashion action isn’t isolated to the runways this week in Paris. French police have launched a strike force to crack down on drug use in the Paris fashion, nightclub and film scene. The first high profile deer caught in their headlights is none other than Bertrand Hennet, the ceo of Elite Model Management parent Elite World, who has been charged with buying, possessing and transporting cocaine. Released on bail, Hennet revealed to investigators that he snorts up to two mgs of cocaine every day. And possibly also dobbed in others, in exchange for a better deal. According to the UK Telegraph, a number of others are being questioned - including other "high-profile" figures.
Hilariously, Elite Model Management president, Gerald Marie, dismissed the arrest as an "epiphenomenon", claiming that although he is "surprised" by the incident, Hennet is not involved in the day-to-day running of the agency.
Oh yes, that's right, Hennet only heads up Elite's high profile international scouting event, the Elite Model Look contest, which involves a large number of young teenage hopefuls.
A spokesman for Elite World is quoted as saying that the Hennet debacle, “is an isolated case."
Well, isolated to this decade, is what he meant to say presumably.
In 1999, Elite Model Management - then the world's biggest model agency (a title that has since been usurped by IMG Models) - found itself at the epicentre of the modelling industry’s biggest scandal, after a current affairs team from the BBC led by Donal MacIntyre conducted an undercover investigation into the Milan modelling scene.
The exposé, which sent shockwaves through the industry, revealed that girls as young as 13 were being pressured into sex and drugs by those in trust, with one model booker from the Marilyn agency admitting that she supplied cocaine to models.
The actions of the Elite agency were particularly damaging.
Elite executives were overheard calling black models "niggers" and making racist jokes, whilst Gerald Marie, who was at the time the president of Elite Europe, propositioned an undercover female reporter who was posing as a model – and boasted on camera that he planned to seduce the Elite Model Look finalists, whose average age was 15.
Needless to say, many may well be surprised to hear that Marie even still has a job at Elite, let alone a senior position at the company - having stepped down in disgrace in the wake of the 1999 scandal.
The news follows almost a year to the day that the head of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, slammed "coke- snorting fashionistas" such as Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss and Pete Doherty, for glamorising drug use.
All three celebrities have strong connections to the fashion industry in the various capacities of paid model, booked entertainer and/or designer muse.
Needless to say, it promises to be a fun week.
Elite Model Management was founded by John Casablancas in Paris in 1972.
Casablancas described the BBC's 1999 revelations as "some of the darkest aspects" of modelling and promised an investigation within the company, telling The Independent:
"Four members of the Elite organisation appear in this programme. The language and situations in which these individuals allowed themselves to be involved are shocking, unacceptable and highly inappropriate".
Coincidentally, Casablancas sold his interest in the agency in 2000.
In 2002, Casablancas found himself at the centre of his own underage sex scandal, when a former Elite model claimed that she had been pursued by Casablancas at the Elite Model Look competition when she was 15, that Casablancas had made her pregnant and then took her to a doctor for an abortion.
* Although the above "Sisley" ad initially swept across the net in 2007, prompting heated debate, Sisley parent Benetton has clarified that the company had nothing whatsoever to do with the images. Sisley has nevertheless been more than happy to push the taste envelope with its advertisements, as shot by Terry Richardson and including the famous shot of model Josie Moran simulating fellatio with a cow's udder. And frankly, it's hardly surprising that people found it so easy to believe that this was a real Sisley ad. In the interests of satire and free speech, frockwriter reserves the right to republish the above picture as social commentary on the fashion business. Sisley can hardly claim that its, ahem, nose, is clean.