Model slams 'elitist' industry

AN amateur model among a group of normal-sized women who triggered a row with Australian Fashion Week organisers when they took the catwalk, says "people need to take a fresh look" at "elitist and superficial attitudes" in the fashion industry.

Michelle Bourke. Picture: Cameron Tandy

storm erupted around Rosemount Australian Fashion Week after swimwear designer Leesa Fogarty claimed she was told her size 8 to 12 models weren't fit for the catwalk.

The MaraJoara designer last night put the future of her label at risk after pushing ahead with plans to use "everyday Australians" in her show against the advice of organisers.

Marketing manager Michelle Bourke, 22, from Thomastown, was among those to stride down onto the stage for MaraJoara designer Leesa Fogarty last night.

The models from size 8 to 12 have won the backing of women’s health experts, after Fogarty refused to heed calls by organisers to use professionals for her show.

“It’s all about clothes that are accessible for every woman, while still being sexy,” Ms Bourke said.

“If you look at photos of the professional models and then you look at ours, you see the vibrancy, the colour and the effort put in by the models.

“Sure it was scary. I’ve never approached any major modeling agencies because you have to be at least 173cm and a size 6-8, but we had girls there from 5’4” to 6 foot and from size 6 to size 12.”

“The support she’s gotten from having the courage to do what she did.

“There’s so many elitist and superficial attitudes of so many in the industry, but in the end it’s the public – of all shapes and sizes that make these designers money.

“Perhaps everyone needs to take a fresh look at how fashion shows are cast and conducted.

“Why should our wives, daughters and sisters have to go through life worrying about how skinny we are? Haven’t we got enough to worry about already?”

Ms Bourke said today she was partly driven to get involved because of her own battle with an eating disorder.

“I wanted to be that person on the front of a magazine, even though I now know they’re all air-brushed and not real.”

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