Ondria Hardin, 14 has become the first model to flout the leading fashion industry trade organization’s call for a ban on underage models at New York Fashion Week. Her agency, the elite Ford Models has signed off on the move.
The move comes little more than a week after Diane von Furstenberg, president of The Council of Fashion Designers of America, called on designers to prevent girls under age 16 from working the Fashion Week catwalks. She’s ordered all members to demand proof of age.
But Ford included Hardin, who hails from Lumberton, N.C., in the agency’s show portfolio, which lists models that are available to work catwalks. It’s unknown at this point if any designer has hired her.
Check out Ondria’s photos; click to enlarge.
Hardin was discovered in 2009 and originally represented by Elite Models. But she jumped ship to Ford Models last year.
She was sent to Asia, where young models can easily find work and get some seasoning. Her first shoot was with Japanese magazine RUSSH #35, titled “The kids are alright,” with photographer Benny Horne and Editor Stevie Dance.
“It was really creative and the team was fabulous. It was a fantastic first shoot experience! It was what I expected and much more,” she told Interview magazine.
She found work last year for Doo.Ri, and was hired as the face of Prada. She also walked in the Marc Jacobs show in New York last September, as an exclusive, according to New York magazine.
The CFDA noted last week in an open letter that top modeling agencies all pledged to adhere to the ban, “including DNA, Elite, Ford, IMG, Marilyn, New York Models, Next, One, Supreme, Trump, Wilhelmina, Women and Women Direct.
Models under age 18 should not be allowed to work past midnight for fittings, the letter added.
Ford issued a statement saying it was adhering to the policy, which is voluntary. “We take the age and maturity of our models very seriously. We work on a case-by-case basis alongside a prospective model’s parents to make a determination as to whether they are ready to walk the runway.
“In most cases, the answer is no. But a select few demonstrate the know-how and maturity that are necessary to work earlier than they otherwise would. A select few demonstrate the know-how and maturity that are necessary to work earlier than they otherwise would.
Last year at Fashion Week, TheImproper reported that Kylie Jenner, sister of reality TV personality Kim Kardashian, openly flouted the policy by walking in Avril Lavigne’s show. She was 14.
Another model, Valerija Sestic, allegedly told more than a dozen designers including Tory Burch, Rodarte and Oscar de la Renta, that she was 16. Her age at the time was listed variously as 14 or 15, depending on the source.
New York Fashion Week opened at Lincoln Center yesterday and will run until Feb. 16. No word yet on what action, if any, the CFDA intends to take.