By Anna Denejkina
Fashion Week Australia has come under fire following allegations of designers using excessively thin models on their catwalks. Although commanding less prestige than any of its international counterparts, including those in Milan, Paris and New York, this year’s Fashion Week made international headlines for its super thin models even as the capital of heroin chic, Paris, prepares to ban size zero from its catwalks.
The allegations that emaciated models appeared on the catwalks have come amidst revelations that Australian fashion bloggers chose to Photoshop weight onto models at Fashion Week to avoid the risk of glamorising an unhealthy, malnourished body image.
Sydney-based photographer and blogger Kierra Thorn, who attended the event for the first time, expressed concern about the message Australian designers are sending the public and their lack of responsibility.
“Designers should be more conscious of the message they are sending out regarding weight,” she said. “They should take a browse through some of the Thinspiration blogs on the internet, so they can understand the full force of what they are helping to fuel.”
Creating further controversy, former Vogue Australia editor Kirstie Clements, who recently revealed that models fill up on tissue paper to avoid weight gain, has laid the blame directly on designers, saying that models “are the size the designers and the casting agents demand. They set the rules”.
Australian designers Jayson Brunsdon and Aurelio Costarella denied the allegations in an interview with The Daily Telegraph earlier this month.
“We have had to accommodate the fact that the models have become smaller,” Aurelio Costarella said. “The designers aren’t to blame.” Mr Costarella said the body shape of celebrities and international fashion consumers that has become smaller.
Kierra Thorn says the unrealistic portrayal of women in magazines is creating a generation of girls who are killing themselves striving for a body shape and size that is impossible.
“Magazines have a lot to answer for; extensive retouching should be kept to an absolute minimum,” she says, adding that the use of Photoshop to alter fashion images presents images that no-one could achieve.
Despite the evidence of emaciated models on the catwalks, few people in the fashion industry are willing to acknowledge the problem.
Mark Fletcher, showroom manager for marketing and public relations agency Brick and Mortar Brands, has sided with Australian designers, saying the issue of malnourished models is still predominantly a European concept.
“It’s certainly an issue if you look at the runways in Europe, and the sort of the girls they’re using over there. I think Australian models are a lot bigger and healthier,” he says. “We promote a much more positive, healthy image and I don’t think we have a size zero culture. That being said, are our models smaller than the average woman? Of course!”
The most prestigious couture designers of the world, including Armani, Versace and Prada, have publically stood against the size zero culture by banning models with a BMI of below 18 from their catwalks. And last year, international fashion magazine editors signed The Health Initiative and declared they would do more to promote healthier body images within the fashion industry. But the Australian fashion industry and the fashion media have still not issued such a directive.