Typically, fashion week is the highlight of most models’ careers, but for 14-year-old model Vlada Dzyuba, it ended up becoming the end of both her career and her life.
Dzyuba was modelling in China when she fell very ill after the Shanghai Fashion Week.
The Russian model was found unconscious, having collapsed after working a 13-hour fashion shoot, and was rushed to a Chinese hospital. Due to utter exhaustion and multiple organ failures, Dzyuba soon fell into a coma and died the following day.
Her death sparked an outcry and raised awareness for the exploitation of children as models in the fashion industry. Her working conditions, such as her long employment hours and the fact that her modeling agency did not provide medical insurance, have been recently introduced to the public.
"It raises questions that irresponsible intermediary companies are sending off minors unaccompanied by legal representatives," Yevsikov, Russia’s Consul-General in Shanghai, said.
Yevsikov said he is usually unaware of the models that come into China because they hardly ever register with the consulate.
“We only find out about them when something tragic happens, like now,” he said.
Investigators are looking into the case to see if her death was caused by any form of negligence. The ESEE Model Management that Dzyuba was modeling for has denied allegations that the teenage model was overworked and underpaid.
The Siberian Times reported that Dzyuba was paid $3,000 for her two-month contract, but the majority of the money went towards paying for her own airfare, food, taxes, accommodations and insurance.
The modeling management claims that sepsis, a bacterial blood poisoning resulting from extreme reaction to an infection, was the reason of her death.
Founder of the ESEE Model Management, Zheng Yi, told reporters that Dzyuba never worked more than eight hours in a day, which is considered to be a “moderate” work schedule compared to other models in the industry.
“Dzyuba had 16 different jobs during her two-month stay in China, she had regular breaks while working,” Zheng said to the public.