Too young? Teenage model spurs age debate in fashion

Thu Oct 8, 2015 2:50pm EDT
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By Johnny Cotton and Marie-Louise Gumuchian

PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) - Amid the chaotic last minute rush typical of a catwalk show, a teenager sits quietly backstage as a hairdresser styles her.

Living a life many young girls around the world dream of, Sofia Mechetner is opening the Paris fashion show of one of the world's most famous labels, Dior.

She is 14 years old, an age some feel is too young to be working in a cutthroat industry.

"I feel ready and I am not alone, I am being looked after, closely," the Israeli model said. "They are treating me really nicely here ... They help me. So the fact that I am 14 years old is not really an issue."

Mechetner, who used to help her mother clean houses to make ends meet, was catapulted into the limelight in July when she opened Dior's haute couture show wearing a sheer white dress.

Her appearance drew criticism and stirred the debate on where to draw the age line in fashion, an industry often criticized for using skinny models.

"Before she started with Dior, she was cleaning houses with her mother. So if she is not too young to clean houses, I don't think she is too young to walk on a show," Mechetner's agent Rotem Gur said.

The use of young models in fashion is not new. Kate Moss was scouted at 14 while Naomi Campbell was 15.   Continued...

Model Sofia Mechetner presents a creation by Belgian designer Raf Simons as part of his Spring/Summer 2016 women's ready-to-wear collection for Christian Dior fashion house in Paris, France, October 2, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier