Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane is not the only fashion industry figure employing strict non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Turns out, rapper Kanye West forced the models that appeared in his New York Fashion Week show to sign a contract in which they promised to refrain from disclosing just about any information in connection with the Spring/Summer 2016 show, West, or any of his famous family members. The catch: if a model did not agree to sign, he or she could not walk in West’s show. If she signed and subsequently breached the contract, West could sue her for $10 million.
According to an array of sources, the NDA requirement caused quite a bit of controversy, but in actuality, we should have seen it coming. Nearly everyone working on the Kimye Vogue cover last year was reportedly forced to sign away their ability to talk about the famous couple. And before that, there was the NDA that guests at Kimye’s engagement event were required to sign, which lead to a nasty lawsuit after YouTube co-founder, Chad Hurley, leaked footage of the proposal online (more about that here).
As for the runway show NDA drama, London’s The Mirror reported: “Kanye’s hacked off some really high-profile models by asking them to sign the agreement, particularly because it stated that he could sue them for up to $10 million if they spoke out about him.” Note that the rapper’s show was almost completely devoid of the big name models that were in town for the NYFW shows. The most high profile models appear in the Yeezy Season 2 lookbook, instead. For this, West landed some of the most promising young faces, including Victoria Beckham’s muse 17-year old Alexandra Elizabeth Ljadov; former Prada exclusive Finnlay Davis; and budding “it” girl, Alice Metza, another Prada favorite.
The source continued: “He’s not considered a great talent – everyone knows his show is just a media frenzy, so some [models] would rather not be associated with him. The document is ridiculous and totally over the top.”
So, just how unheard of is it that West made his models sign away their ability to talk about the behind the scenes happenings of his show? Well, the employment of NDAs in fashion isn’t completely unheard of. In February 2011, for his first show back in the world of womenswear, Tom Ford asked show-goers to sign NDAs that prevented them from speaking about the collection or taking photos. Ex-Balenciaga creative director, Nicolas Ghesquière signed a non-disclosure agreement of sorts with the house, which prompted Kering (Balenciaga’s parent company) to file suit against him upon after leaving his post as creative director.
But having models sign NDAs to walk in your regular runway shows? Not as common. The only other instance that I can think of is YSL, where models also have to sign NDAs. This was confirmed by one of Slimane’s October 2012 exclusives, Louise Parker, who spoke out (as much as she legally could), saying: “We had to sign a confidentiality contract about everything.”
Considering that Slimane has been labeled by the fashion press as “terrible”, “childlike”, “narcissistic” and “self-important,” rumor has it, YSL’s use of NDAs is aimed at curtailing bad press surrounding its creative director. It seems West’s team has taken a cue and followed suit, and that is probably for the best. West has stepped on enough toes this fashion week alone.