As London Fashion Week draws to a close, it's worthwhile to reflect on how much, if anything, has changed in the world of British fashion since last February when all the talk was less about zips, buckles, belts and pleats and more about eating disorders, dress sizes and BMI measurements.
For those who missed the storm, BMI refers to body mass index — it's a numeric measure based on a person's height and weight that calculates their "fatness" or "thinness." A BMI that's less than 18.5 is considered underweight, more than 25 is regarded as overweight and more than 30 is clinically obese.
After the British Fashion Council, which organizes London Fashion Week, came under fire last year for not barring size 0 models from participating in the shows, it is eager to show the world that it has taken those concerns on board.
A spokesperson for the council tells ABC News that it "launched the model health inquiry due to media interest" nearly a year ago and is "working with numerous people to ensure that the backstage areas become a healthy place of work."
The council has even hired an auditing firm to monitor all backstage activity. Although the council's spokesperson would not confirm the name of the auditing company, media reports suggest that a team from PricewaterhouseCoopers has been given full-access backstage passes, with a brief to observe any illicit activity, from drug use to alcohol abuse to cigarette smoking.
"Smoking is no longer allowed and we have a complete no-drugs policy. We also make sure there is plenty of nonalcoholic refreshment available," the council spokesperson said.
But what about the issue that got media campaigners riled up in the first place — super-skinny models?
A cursory glance at this week's catwalks shows no discernable difference — the models are still very thin and very tall, to no one's surprise.
Although Madrid Fashion Week made headlines in September 2006 when it banned models with a BMI of less than 18, London has refused to follow in these footsteps, choosing only to reject models under the age of 16.
In fact, Madrid's top fashion show even sent three European models home this week, for having a BMI of less than 16.
Now, a new problem is stalking the city's catwalks — size-0 male models. Apparently, the skinny jean trend has led many designers to choose thinner and thinner models for their shows.
That was certainly the case at luxury design house Mulberry's autumn/winter collection.
As thin, frowning boys stomped down the catwalk to the sounds of Courtney Love and Nirvana, one wondered how many of them were even born when grunge music — the avowed inspiration behind this latest collection — first hit the charts.
Part of the problem is that most people in the fashion industry don't believe that there is in fact a problem. A recent report by the consultancy Allegra Strategies found that only 12 percent of fashion insiders felt that models today are too thin.
Furthermore, many in the British fashion industry are reluctant to pressure top models to put on weight for fears that the models might abandon the capital's catwalks for shows in Paris, Milan and New York.
Despite this, the council insists that it is 'in constant discussions with the modelling agencies to ensure a healthy backstage environment. London is the first place in world to put this kind of infrastructure in place."
Part of this infrastructure is the Model Sanctuary. A brain wave by British supermodel Erin O'Connor, the sanctuary is actually a flat in South West London, a relaxation zone of sorts for the working model, where he or she can get food, advice from a nutritionist or even lessons from a life coach.
Still, while watching models scramble to get cabs after today's Graeme Black fashion show, one wondered when any of them might find the time to venture into this sanctuary. That thought naturally led to another: When do they find time to eat, during the punishing schedule of shows?
Five minutes later, waiting curbside, I got my answer. One of the tall, wispy amazons scurried out of the show and tried to flag down a cab, waving an outstretched arm.
In her other hand she clutched a half-eaten granola bar, eating it bit by bit before bumming a cigarette from a fellow model.
Fabiola Antezana contributed to the reporting of this story.