Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A disturbing trend: dying young in the fashion industry

by Ava Jaulin

Geldof - Photo by Zak Hussein/Getty Images
Peaches Geldof has died at the age of 25. If that name is unfamiliar, don’t feel bad. Only fashion die-hards, and underground British Rock aficionados, knew the name before her death. Geldof was an English socialite, and the second daughter of musician Sir Bob Geldof and the late telecaster Paula Yates.

Geldof began writing for the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph as a teen. She wrote and hosted two TV documentaries. Casually, she was called a model, a fashion influencer, and a TV presenter.

Those who knew of her, knew the “wild child,” who lost her mother at a young age to a drug overdose. She had an eccentric name, like her sisters—Fifi Trixiebelle, Pixie, and Tiger Lily.

Her age makes this tragedy worse. Hearing that she left behind two very young sons (Astala and Phaedra) leads to tears.  But dying, in this way, so soon after the death of another fashion icon, L’Wren Scott, has shaken the fashion scene.

Scott—an American fashion designer, celebrity stylist, model, and longtime girlfriend to Mick Jagger—was found dead in her living room on March 17th.  Days later, a coroner announced that the death was a suicide. Initially, the media, the public, and Jagger, seemed utterly confused. Then, it was leaked that the designer had serious debt concerns, and cancelled her London Fashion Week show. She left her entire nine million dollar estate to Mick Jagger. Nine million dollars. 

Scott- Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Post-autopsy, Geldof’s cause of death is still undetermined. Would it be disrespectful or unfair to assume she committed suicide?  In this industry, there’s constant pressure to stay relevant.  She admitted that her drastic weight loss was for the purpose of fitting into clothes given to her.  Her history includes years of drug abuse. Then my dad says, “All of this for clothes?” No.

Fashion is more than knowing that this season’s pencil skirts should be two inches above the knee. It’s a billion dollar international industry led by a fortunate few. But even for the few, when things fall apart, death happens.

Millenials may remember Alexander McQueen’s 2010 suicide, in London. McQueen’s suicide was also likely related to the pressure to succeed, self-esteem, and in his case sexuality.

Sadly, this appears to be a trend that is gaining steam. Unless the Anna Wintours (Vogue) of the world call for some type of worldwide fashion ethics summit, the heartache and tragedy will continue.

New fashion businesses are often peer-funded start-ups. Young entrepreneurs create businesses linked directly to their very identity.  They advertise through social media platforms, and word of mouth. When the business and brand fails, the individual fails – personally and publically.

These stories depict textbook cries for help.  It’s difficult to predict or imagine real change in the industry. The few in it need a real support system. In the field, we blame “delusional iconic designers” entirely.  But honestly, it’s the pressure to show-up yesterday’s version of ourselves that leads to depression, drug use, and death. 

Today’s Cover Girl should not be too old to work tomorrow.


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