James Scully’s damning Instagram post (calling out two casting directors for abusive behavior at a Balenciaga casting) has been a particularly hot point of conversation during Paris fashion week, and naturally, media outlets have been reaching out to all parties involved. It was only a matter of time before Maida Gregori Boina and Rami Fernandes (who were named by Scully) responded to the allegations.
In an email to Business of Fashion, Boina called Scully’s remarks “inaccurate and libelous,” refuting his claims about the details of the casting, in which he alleged that models were confined to a dark stairwell for three hours while Boina and Fernandes went out to lunch.
“It is important to stop the spread of rumours and set the record straight,” she wrote, explaining that Balenciaga provided the location for the casting, and that due to the limited space the stairwell needed to be used to keep a line. Although the electricity did go out, Boina claims that the models were moved from the stairwell.
“To directly address these accusations, the models did not wait for 3 hours in the dark, not even one hour. We personally ate our lunch in the casting facility and—without question—we did not lock the models in the stairwell and turn out the lights. That would be completely inhumane. Throughout the entire process, we provided the most comfortable accommodations allowable based on the facilities provided.”
At the time of Scully’s post, models commented on Instagram that they had experienced incidents similar to his allegations from Boina and Fernandes before. In the wake of the post going viral, Balenciaga sent out an apology to the models and fired Boina and Fernandes, which has caused Boina to question Scully’s motives.
“We applaud Balenciaga’s quick action to issue a statement to the press. At the same time, we are saddened to be released from the casting without a discussion of what actually took place,” she wrote, adding: “We are also very concerned that James, as a casting director himself, has intentionally misrepresented the facts for personal career gain without substantiating the story.”
Lanvin—which Scully named on Instagram, accusing the house of racially discriminating against models—has also responded, telling The Guardian, “The comments made by James Scully regarding Lanvin on his Instagram post are a serious allegation and completely untrue.” It should, however, be noted that that out of the 42 models who walked the show, only two were black. The overwhelmingly white cast does not exactly exemplify diversity.
For his part, Scully is not only standing by his accusations against Boina and Fernandes, but doubling-down on them, telling BoF “What Maida and Rami did, they have been doing for a long time.” He added: “They are the king and queen of abuse. I’ve heard stories from girls who were left waiting for so long without food or water that they ordered a pizza, and Maida came out and started shouting at them and calling them pigs.”
Of course, until models come forward on their own with detailed accusations, it will be difficult to verify what exactly happened. Considering that many have pointed out that models fear being blackballed from the industry should they speak out, they are more likely to filter their stories through more powerful sources such as Scully, who has promised to vocalize abuse on their behalf.