“Half-price” fashion models tighten their belts

PARIS (Reuters) – Free designer dresses, an army of admirers and $15,000 to stroll down a catwalk: no wonder thousands of teenage girls aspire to being a top model.

But at the haute couture shows in Paris, the leggy blondes in silk dresses who advertise a life of luxury are finding their world turned inside out by the economic crisis.

“Half price! It’s half-price everywhere, in Milan, even in New York,” cried Anna Chyzh, a 23-year-old from Kiev who had just changed out of a Stephane Rolland haute couture gown into jeans and was headed to the next show.

Like many models from Ukraine, Russia and the Balkans, Chyzh regularly sends money home to support her mother, a freelance interior designer who is having trouble finding work because of the downturn.

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