At a Balenciaga casting call, casting directors Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes reportedly left over a hundred models waiting in a dark stairwell while they went to lunch for several hours.
One casting director spoke out about the abuse for the models involved int he abuse, “In their usual fashion they shut the door, went to lunch and turned off the lights to the stairs leaving every girl with only the lights of their phones to see,” he wrote. “Not only was this sadistic and cruel it was dangerous and left more than a few of the girls I spoke with traumatised.”
Balenciaga issued a statement explaining they were ending their relationship with the casting company and sent apologies to the agencies of the models that were reportedly left to wait in the dark.
However, Boina and Fernandes are not taking the accusations sitting down and are telling their version of the story. In a statement to Business of Fashion, Boina claims that the models did not even wait in the stairwell for a very long time, nor were they treated poorly.
Via e-mail, the two casting directors told Business of Fashion their side of the story. “We personally ate our lunch in the casting facility and — without question — we did not lock the models in the stairwell and turn out the lights,” Boina explained.
“That would be completely inhumane. Throughout the entire process, we provided the most comfortable accommodations allowable based on the facilities provided.”
Allegedly, the building’s electricity went out for a “period of time,” which caused the models to wait in the dark as the reception area of Balenciaga’s headquarters was “unavailable.”
That said, last week, casting director James Scully posted on Instagram in which he called out the unethical Paris Fashion Week casting conditions. Scully is sticking to his version of the story and shared insight into the casting company’s history of “abuse.”
“What Maida and Rami did, they have been doing for a long time,” Scully said. “They are the king and queen of abuse. I’ve heard stories from girls who were left waiting for so long without food or water that they ordered a pizza, and Maida came out and started shouting at them and calling them pigs.”
Several models commented on Scully’s Instagram post confirming their negative experiences with the casting directors. Judith Schiltz, who says she was at the Balenciaga casting call claimed she did wait for several hours in the stairwell.
Another model confirmed the same experience. “Maida would request me season after season to do the exact same thing. Lock me in a room for 3 hours while everyone panicked, only to never, ever book me,” Mollie Gondi explained. “The apology to the agencies from the fashion house is laughable because the agents have known this for years and don’t think twice because they want their girl in the show.”
So true to my promise at #bofvoices that I would be a voice for any models, agents or all who see things wrong with this business I’m disappointed to come to Paris and hear that the usual suspects are up to the same tricks. I was very disturbed to hear from a number of girls this morning that yesterday at the Balenciaga casting Madia & Ramy (serial abusers) held a casting in which they made over 150 girls wait in a stairwell told them they would have to stay over 3 hours to be seen and not to leave. In their usual fashion they shut the door went to lunch and turned off the lights, to the stairs leaving every girl with only the lights of their phones to see. Not only was this sadistic and cruel it was dangerous and left more than a few of the girls I spoke with traumatized. Most of the girls have asked to have their options for Balenciaga cancelled as well as Hermes and Ellie Saab who they also cast for because they refuse to be treated like animals. Balenciaga part of Kering it is a public company and these houses need to know what the people they hire are doing on their behalf before a well deserved law suit comes their way. On top of that I have heard from several agents, some of whom are black that they have received mandate from Lanvin that they do not want to be presented with women of color. And another big house is trying to sneak 15 year olds into paris! It’s inconceivable to me that people have no regard for human decency or the lives and feelings of these girls, especially when too too many of these models are under the age of 18 and clearly not equipped to be here but god forbid well sacrifice anything or anyone for an exclusive right? If this behavior continues it’s gonna be a long cold week in paris. Please keep sharing your stories with me and I will continue to to share them for you. It seems to be the only way we can force change and give the power back to you models and agents where it rightfully belongs. And I encourage any and all to share this post #watchthisspace