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Macintyre Undercover Fashion Industry


The BBC admitted that there were editing failures in the programme which I became aware of after broadcast, but none of those failures undermined the truth of any of the allegations about the abuse and exploitation of models, particularly young models in the industry which appeared in our undercover investigation which was filmed over nearly two years across the globe from Paris and Milan to London and Moscow.




macintyre undercover fashion industry



The BBC must, in respect of this litigation and future litigation, engage with the wider moral map and accept that it owes a debt of obligation to more than just its short-term corporate interests but also to the victims of abuse in the fashion industry and beyond. This is the moral imperative that is granted to the Corporation by the licence fee payer.


Donal MacIntyre goes undercover as a fashion photographer to investigate the fashion industry and how it operates, and the exploitation and abuse of young models, particularly those aged between fourteen and seventeen, often by the very people who are supposed to be looking after them. MacIntyre uncovers abuses by some of the top figures in the Elite fashion organisation, as well as amongst the PR's and chaperones of Milan and Paris who ply the girls with drink and drugs and get money for each girl they can persuade to go to certain night clubs and functions by men intent on seducing them.


Donal MacIntyre has been an undercover journalist for over 15 years working mostly for the BBC1 and BBC2 but with stints at ITV and Five. His reports have also been broadcast on Sky and BBC News and broadcast in over 75 countries. Born in Dublin in 1966, he was employed initially in the print media, working as a news reporter for The Sunday Tribune and later with The Irish Press in Dublin. He went on to work in finance journalism, sports and news, and has written for The Guardian, The Mail and New Statesman among others. In 1993, he did his first work in television was for the award-winning BBC investigative sports programme, On-The-Line. A highly experienced canoeist, he was invited to go undercover as an adventure sports instructor to expose the lack of employment standards in the industry. This was in the wake of the Lyme Regis canoeing disaster in which four people drowned. Since then, he has investigated everything from cruelty in greyhound racing to organised football violence to racism in the police. Among his many dangerous missions, he has infiltrated a drug den by living in a crack house for three months, travelled to Rwanda to highlight the illegal trade in rare mountain gorillas and worked undercover as a doorman in Nottingham for a year. In 2002, he presented the landmark series, Wild Weather, with the BBC science department, which was nominated for a BAFTA. Over the years, he has won a whole host of awards including several Royal Television Society awards and a BAFTA award for The Oklahoma Bomber (2001) - his investigation into the life of Timothy McVey.


Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, also known by her pen name Nellie Bly, was one of the first female reporters in the US. However, when she was pressed into writing about what were deemed appropriate topics for women reporters, such as gardening and fashion, Cochrane moved from Pittsburgh to New York in 1887. There, an editor at the New York World dubiously offered her an undercover assignment that required both courage and daring. Cochrane was to act insane, get committed to a lunatic asylum, and report on the conditions inside.


The following year, he was living in a crack house to investigate false marriage scams, his camera equipment stuffed in a pillow to evade detection. And in 1998, he joined the BBC and began his most ambitious project, the MacIntyre Undercover series. He spent 18 months in a series of different identities, juggling four undercover investigations into football hooliganism, abuse in a Kent care home, international fraud and the modelling industry all at once. He only had 11 days' holiday during that period, even spending Christmas Day working shifts at the care home, after flying back from Milan where he'd been posing as a wealthy fashion photographer.


However, this was not just a matter of fashion doing an aesthetic backflip. The industry had wearied of supermodels. Anna Wintour, editor of American Vogue, had declared them ''fabulous for fashion, like movie stars'', and we in the newspapers had rushed to interview them. Were we amazed not one of them had anything sensible to say? Not really. They were not, after all, movie stars with a film to talk about. They were just rather spoilt, ordinary women parlaying a really good living from lucky genes - and were bored by our questions.


As the new models get younger and thinner, the industry is attempting to put its house in order, with the directors of London and New York fashion weeks banning models under 16. However, without the co-operation of the agencies, nothing can be achieved. The agencies are competing to produce the ''freshest'' faces, something demanded by design houses planning a show intended to be talked about as it is streamed live on the internet.


However, this was not just a matter of fashion doing an aesthetic back-flip. The industry had wearied of supermodels. Anna Wintour, editor of American Vogue , had declared them "fabulous for fashion. Like movie stars", and we in the newspapers had rushed to interview them. Were we amazed that not one of them had anything sensible to say? Not really. They were not, after all, movie stars with a film to talk about. They were just rather spoilt, ordinary women parlaying a really good living from some lucky genes - and they were bored by our questions. 076b4e4f54


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