A storm is brewing overseas involving the new face of luxury French label Christian Dior – Sofia Mechetner, 14, who, according to the British press, was “plucked from obscurity”.
The 13-year-old daughter of former supermodel Cindy Crawford, Kaia Gerber, has also raised eyebrows with her latest photoshoot.
Linda Bruchhausen, Boss Models’ director in Cape Town and Durban, said South African modelling agencies “tend to be conservative when it comes to age”.
“Clients seldom book a model under 18. We hold back a model as much as possible for most work until they are 16.”
Bruchhausen said full-time modelling for a young girl was likely to be detrimental.
“A 14-year-old should be in school and having a normal teenage life – a few jobs here and there won’t do any damage, but modelling full-time is a different story.
“Going to work with adults every day, being in the spotlight and being celebrated on social media can be very unhealthy for a model under 16,” she said.
Neal Vincent, who heads Base Model Agency, in Cape Town, said: “We do not allow girls under the age of 16 to model.
“It’s all too much, too soon. Such hedonism should not be advocated to such young persons.”
But JJ Schoeman, designer to the local celebrity set and various Miss South Africas, disagrees.
“Fashion is moving down to the kids. We are now seeing two-year-olds sporting the latest Louis Vuitton, and the top brands in the world. I don’t think it’s unacceptable for young girls to be modelling.
“Some of the kids are fully grown at the age of 12. The age thing is not as important. Their look and how they wear the clothes is,” Schoeman said.