• Report: #29434

Complaint Review: Options talent

  • Submitted: Mon, September 09, 2002
  • Updated: Sun, July 01, 2012

  • Reported By:Orlando Fl
Options talent
1701 Lake Ellenor Dr Orlando, Florida United States of America

Options Talent Part 4 Options associates with Scum Orlando Florida

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The world's largest modelling agency is at the centre of allegations that a number of its top executives are racist and have been caught on film expressing their dislike of black women. The scandal follows revelations that some senior staff with Elite Model Management had sexually exploited young models.

Some of the senior figures within Elite - the agency which counts Naomi Campbell as one of its greatest assets - were filmed calling blacks "(((REDACTED FOUL LANGUAGE)))" and saying that Africa would be "a great country if they were all white".

The Guardian newspaper has seen footage not used in the broadcast of the BBC programme MacIntyre Undercover, which includes racist comments from other senior figures in the industry who determine the face and look of international fashion.

In one exchange a chaperone for Elite models explains that black women are rarely used in the capital of the fashion world, Milan. "In Milano they can never use a black girl or an oriental. Very few," says Daniele Bianco.

In another scene two executives are watching football in a hotel room. "We need some (((REDACTED FOUL LANGUAGE)))," says director of Elite Model Fashion, Roberto Caan. "We need two or three (((REDACTED FOUL LANGUAGE))) for France from Africa, in the defence, like Desailly."

In a further exchange over a meal, Xavier Moreau, president of the Elite Model Look Contest, the world's largest modelling contest, says of Swaziland and other African nations: "It would be a great country if they were all white. So sad." He then laughs, slaps a colleague's hand in agreement and says: "I don't like black girls." His colleague, Olivier Daube, responds: "I am not too keen on them too."

Elite is the world's largest modelling agency with 25 offices worldwide and a turnover of $100m (62.5m). With its headquarters in New York since 1977, Elite represents approximately 500 models on five continents, including Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and Amber Valletta.

Lorraine Caggiano, Elite's executive assistant said she did not want to comment until she had seen the programme. "We don't know whether it was said in jest, taken out of context or whatever," she said. However, Mr Moreau, and Mr Daube, director of recruitment at Elite New York, have been suspended pending an internal investigation.

Sources close to Ms Campbell said they were "shocked and disgusted" at the remarks. "We all knew racism in the industry was bad but I don't think anybody expected that it would come from the company that is supposed to be promoting such a high profile model as Naomi."

The racist comments shed new light on complaints about the "narrow mindedness" of the industry made by Ms Campbell three years ago. She claimed that racism was behind her removal from a Vogue cover in favour of a white model. "This business is about selling - and blonde and blue-eyed girls are what sells," she said.

After hearing the comments, a spokesman for the Commission for Racial Equality said: "Is there nobody in that conversation who's going to stop and say: 'Hang on a minute. Unless these ideas are challenged they fester on'. "

The expos of the inherent racism in the industry is the latest in a string of allegations to emerge from the BBC's MacIntyre Undercover series. In the recent programme, which focused on the fashion industry, it emerged that two other employees have been suspended after boasting about their sexual exploits with younger models. The film shows Gerald Marie, European president of Elite, saying he is planning to have sex with teenage girls who have made it to the final of a modelling competition. It also exposes a model booker with Marilyn Models, a French agency, in the act of supplying cocaine to a top English model, without the agency's knowledge.

The BBC defeated legal moves to prevent the broadcast by Marilyn Models, whose employee is exposed as dealing drugs.

Elite has also threatened criminal proceedings against the BBC alleging that the covert filming methods used were illegal.

Founded in Paris in 1971 by John Casablancas, Elite is the world's largest modelling agency. The Elite Model Look contest is the world's biggest annual search for modelling talent, involving 60 countries, and attracts 350,000 girls whose average age is 15.

Two top executives at Elite have quit after a TV documentary recently alleged girls as young as 13 were pressured to have sex and take drugs.

Gerald Marie, president of Elite Europe, and Xavier Moreau, president of Elite Model Look, have had their resignations accepted by the Elite directors.

Mr. Marie, ex-husband of model Linda Evangelista, was filmed propositioning investigator Lisa Brinkworth when she posed as a model in Tuesday night's programme, screened on BBC1 as part of the MacIntyre Undercover series.

Marie also told fellow investigator Donald MacIntyre, posing as a photographer, he was planning to seduce finalists from the Elite Model Look contest whose average age is just 15, said the BBC, which made the film.

The Elite agency, which represents supermodels Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford, launched an investigation into the allegations.

Soon afterwards, Elite chairman John Casablancas said several senior executives had been suspended and ordered to explain themselves.

The film featured a string of "confessions" from fashion world insiders, including staff from the agency.

It also included evidence that men employed to ferry young models around were forcing drugs on them without the knowledge of the agencies involved.

Elite said Mr Moreau would be replaced by Thierry Grin, a Swiss attorney with the company in New York, and that Mr Marie's replacement would be announced in the near future.

Casablancas issued an ''unconditional apology'' to models and their families for the ''shocking, unacceptable and totally incorrect'' behavior of some agency executives. He called it "some of the darkest aspects of the modelling industry".

But Narboni said Elite was furious that its reputation and that of its employees and models had been damaged by what he said were the off-duty actions of a small minority.

"The Elite executives were filmed and recorded outside of their jobs, within their private lives, and the girls involved in the Milan prostitution and drugs trafficking scenes were not from Elite,'' Narboni told Reuters by telephone.

"If you see the program there is nothing, no link between Elite and any kind of drug offer or prostitution.''

According to the documentary, hundreds of young girls come to Milan each year looking for work and end up being victimized by unscrupulous agents and public relations agencies that ply them with free drugs, send them to nightclubs and encourage them to have sex with ''clients,'' sometimes for payment.

Narboni said the videotape had been edited in such a way that it was difficult to tell to what extent the comments had been provoked and in what context.

"The film was made over a long period of time and parts have been edited out. If you put two separate bits of tape together you can make people say anything. Until I have seen the video footage in its entirety, its very difficult to form a conclusive opinion,'' he said.

Elite's UK lawyer was studying whether there were any grounds for legal action under British law -- which does not have France's strict privacy laws, Narboni added.

Assistant Milan Prosecutor Ferdinando Pomarici Thursday opened an inquiry into the affair, while Elite said it would reexamine the chaperon system used to protect underage models so that cases like those revealed by the documentary cannot be repeated.

The film featured a string of astonishing "confessions" from fashion world insiders, including staff from the agency.

It also included evidence that men employed to ferry young models around were forcing drugs on them without the knowledge of the agencies involved.

Elite said Mr Moreau would be replaced by Thierry Grin, a Swiss attorney with the company in New York, and that Mr Marie's replacement would be announced in the near future.

From Reuters/Variety, The Guardian and wire services, November 26, 1999

Dave Orlando, Florida

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/09/2002 06:20 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Options-talent/Orlando-Florida/Options-Talent-Part-4-Options-associates-with-Scum-Orlando-Florida-29434. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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