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October 31, 2017

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Agency denies overwork killed model, 14

A SHANGHAI agency representing a 14-year-old Russian model who died after taking part in Shanghai Fashion Week has denied claims she was overworked and underpaid.

Vlada Dzyuba died in hospital last Friday.

English-language newspaper The Siberian Times alleged that Dzyuba died of meningitis compounded by severe exhaustion following “a grueling fashion show in Shanghai,” AFP reported.

“We feel sorry that we lost an angel,” ESEE Model Management said in an online statement, pointing out that Shanghai Fashion Week ended on October 18 and that the girl had fallen ill six days later while on another assignment.

Zheng Yi, ESEE’s chief executive, said Dzyuba — who died without her family at her side because her mother could not travel to China in time — had never complained of being overworked.

Dzyuba had 16 different jobs during the two months in China before her death, he said, adding that most of Dzyuba’s assignments lasted between four and eight hours a day and she had regular time off.

After Shanghai, Dzyuba traveled to Yiwu in neighboring Zhejiang Province but a model shoot was canceled because she felt unwell and she returned to Shanghai.

Doctors at Shanghai’s Ruijin Hospital said Dzyuba was diagnosed with “severe infection in the central nerve system, purulent meningitis and failure of multiple organs.”

Medical experts were of the opinion that her meningitis had no direct correlation with fatigue, but believed the exact cause of her death would be explained by an autopsy.

Dzyuba’s body is being kept at the hospital awaiting the arrival of her mother later this week.

ESEE signed a contract with Smirnoff Models, a peer agency in Saint Petersburg, earlier this year to have Dzyuba working in Shanghai for three months from August 20.

“Modeling is not a hard job compared with many other jobs,” Zheng said, “and the girl’s working schedule was no different than that of models in other places of the world.”

Dzyuba, who was 180 centimeters tall, weighed 58 kilograms at the time of her death, the same as when she came to China, according to the agency.

Dzyuba was “a happy girl with good appetite” the night before she fell ill, it said.

In Yiwu last Tuesday, the girl told her agent she wasn’t feeling well and the next day she returned to Shanghai because she was not feeling any better.

She was taken to hospital on Wednesday evening and admitted to the ICU the following afternoon when her condition deteriorated.

She was at first thought to have a skin problem as she had a rash, and then food poisoning was suspected.

Further medical checks revealed a bacterial infection already well advanced.

The Shanghai agency, which was in constant contact with Dzyuba’s Russian agency after she was admitted to hospital, had put her through to her mother on the phone on Wednesday evening, but soon after that her breath got weaker and weaker and she could hardly speak.

Dzyuba, who would have been 15 on November 18, died around 7.30am on Friday.

ESEE produced a medical report from the hospital that gave the cause of death as septicemia.

Carrie Fang, the chief agent for ESEE who was at Dzyuba’s side when she died, fought back tears and told a press conference that the young Russian had been enjoying the two months she spent in China before her death.

ESEE declined to give precise figures for how much the teenage model earned, but Fang denied reports it was as little as US$8 a day.

ESEE, which said it has 20-30 international models in Shanghai, said it had covered the medical expenses.

The firm has its headquarters in Shanghai and offices in Hangzhou, Beijing, Xiamen and Hong Kong.

“She was young, she was a very excitable girl, she liked to eat, she liked to eat chips, like a teenager is supposed to do,” said Fang.

Zheng said: “It’s difficult for us to control whether our foreign partner has a good idea of the health of their models, so we often ask for older and more mature models. We will make sure to be more serious about it with our partners in the future.”

In an interview with the news service, Elvira Zaitseva, head of the Russian modeling agency, said she had not personally checked Dzyuba’s contract, but supposed that the previous insurance from the girl’s first trip to Shanghai, in spring this year, had been extended.

Representatives from the Russian agency are also expected in Shanghai this week, ESEE said.


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