Pier59's Federico Pignatelli Proposes a Model's Bill of Rights

April 23, 2018 4:00 PM

Federico Pignatelli, founder and owner of Pier59 Studios and the Art and Fashion Group Company and Industry Model Management called for a gathering of the fashion industry on Thursday night as a call-to-action for equitable treatment and professional management of models.

A “Model’s Bill of Rights” was bestowed upon entering guests in a legislative fashion, rolled and bound by a black cord. The document declares a necessary “fundamental change in how agencies operate and interact with models,” apportioned into eight commitments. 

About an hour after the event commenced at Pier59 Studios, the 100,000 square-foot photography studio at the Chelsea Piers, Pignatelli took to mic and stage to provide a précis of the Bill of Rights and to urge the industry follow in his path.  

The Pier59 executive comes from a background in international finance, investment banking and brokerage, and is certainly not one unfamiliar with contracts or conducting business, also noting that he read an exhausting number of model contracts in New York. One of the biggest surprises accompanying these contracts is that the models are in fact often not in possession of their contracts, or moreover, never even signed one. Pignatelli also reminded the audience of the prevailing issue of “unpaid invoices,” a plague of the fashion industry that affects all artists, designers and models, alike. Unfortunately, lack of pay most often stems from negligence on the part of the model agencies rather than from non-paying clients, which the “Model’s Bill of Rights” hopes to address with a clause requiring models to be paid within 5 to 9 business days from receipt of payment, and never to exceed 60 days, regardless of payment from the client. Pignatelli echoed that “ ‘The client has not paid’ is not an excuse,” and that it is none other than the agencies’ job to collect payment from clients. 

“Clarity, clarity, clarity,” was another recurring motif of Pignatelli’s speech, because these issues addressed are intensified by the age of aspiring new models who are usually still in their teens. On top of that, they are often international or non-native English speakers, adding another layer of complexity to their careers, the O-1 Visa and sponsorship process, as well as more room for misinterpretation.

These matters of education and understanding, equity and transparency, seem not unlike basic worker’s rights, and so it comes as a shock that such regulations have not found their way to the modeling industry. The commitments laid forth by Pignatelli and Industry Model Management are only the beginning, but we hope they can ring loud and clear as the “voice of necessary change” that must be enacted in the industry. 

 

WRITTEN BY HOLLIS DE LANEY

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Pier59 / Industry Model Management

 

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