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ROME (Reuters) - Italian designer Valentino Garavani defended the use of skinny models on catwalks and said the idea of banning them probably started when the Spaniards who pioneered it woke up "very badly one morning".
Madrid last year became the first high profile fashion week to bar models whose ratio of body weight to height was so low that it was deemed an unhealthy example to the public.
"Designers have to show for the first time on the runway the clothes that they want to be seen, so automatically if the girls are skinny, the dresses are more attractive," Valentino said at a news conference to mark his 45th anniversary as a designer.
"If you put it on a girl and she's a little heavy, not every dress looks sensational."
Off the runway, however, every dress could look sensational for a girl who weighs a few pounds more if it was made expressly for her or if she picked the right size, said the designer famed for his signature red sweeping gowns.
Valentino's native Italy is among countries that have since taken steps to keep underweight models off their catwalks, which has become a hot-button issue in the industry since the deaths of two anorexic Latin American models last year.
The use of underweight models promoting the ultra-slim look has held sway in much of the fashion world since the 1990s, epitomized by British supermodel Kate Moss.