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BIRMINGHAM, England-Six-inch-plus stiletto heels-in vogue this year-are presenting new risks for runway models.
So great is the concern that runway models for a major fashion show in the United Kingdom's National Exhibition Centre next month threatened to pull out without insurance coverage for physical injury.
At the last minute, British banking group Lloyd's TSB P.L.C., the sponsor for Clothes Show Live '97, arranged and paid for 1 million pounds ($1.7 million) of coverage for 20 models who must walk the world's longest runway up to seven times a day during the exhibition, to be held in the Birmingham, England, center Dec. 5-10. The accidental death and dismemberment insurance would pay an injured model her weekly wage until she can work again.
The insurance policy, which provides up to 50,000 pounds ($85,230) for each model, is underwritten by Groupe des Assurances Nationales, a spokeswoman for Lloyd's Bank confirmed. She refused to reveal the premium paid for the coverage.
The return of the stiletto heel has been one of the most talked-about fashion developments this season and is causing concern for a generation of models and fashion followers unused to wearing them.
"This is the first year that stiletto heels have been back for a long time. They are six inches or more high, a nightmare to wear and very dangerous. An injury could put a model out of work for months," said a spokeswoman for the show's organizer, Barker Brown Ltd. of London.
"The catwalk is the longest in the world, and the models do up to seven shows a day. It becomes very fraught and frantic, and parading in stilettos will take its toll," she said.
Several models had threatened to pull out of the show unless insurance coverage was provided, the spokeswoman confirmed.