A column about fashion week

Fashion Week comes but twice a year, and every time the stories are the same. There are the usual gushing articles about glamorous shows written by journalists who apparently interact wit the world largely through the medium of air-kissing. There are the publicity stunts, like Tsubi or Ksubi or %#@ubi or whatever fool thing they’re called these days covering their models in blood and releasing rats everywhere. A little inappropriate, I’d have thought, since rats are famous for eating everything.

Then there’s the hype over the supermodels who’ve flown in in what’s generally described as a “coup”. Unfortunately they’re generally not ‘super’ enough for me to have actually heard of them. Sure, Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, even Gemma Ward I’ve heard of, but forgive me for not getting excited about the arrival of Erin Wasson. Apparently she’s pretty or something.

The world of fashion is largely a mystery to me. I’ve got a vague handle on the kind of clothes that Versace and Armani produce, but I’m almost completely ignorant about current Australian designers. I know that people talk about Akira Isogawa a lot, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what kind of clothes he designs. And even religious viewing of the current series of Australia’s Next Top Model has left me ignorant, I’m afraid to say. Although I do now know who Alex Perry is, and also that he should definitely shave off his little goatee.

But I have been following the biggest story from last week’s Spring/Summer Fashion extravaganza (why you would show them in autumn remains a mystery to me), and that has, as ever, been concern about models who are unhealthily skinny.

In particular, I’ve been following because the controversy has centred around one of the contestants from Top Model, Alice Burdeu. That’s because she is, apparently, a size zero model. And you’d have to agree, that doesn’t sound healthy at all. She’s a measly 58kg on a frame of 185cm, but what if she went on a diet? Okay, an even more severe diet? Would she be a minus-two?

She’ll probably win, because she looks luminous when photographed, but she isn’t exactly an awesome role model for young girls. Her self-esteem problems are fairly well documented in the show, and in the straight-to-camera interviews she seems almost impossibly lethargic. She seems so unhealthy that no less a personage than guest judge Ian Thorpe took her to one side and gave her a stern talking-to about her diet. I was impressed that he cared, but I’d have been even more impressed if he cooked her up a quick steak and force-fed it to her, personally. That’s what seems to be required.

It’s not just little (and I do mean little) Alice, though. I’ve seen the photos from the controversial Azzolini show, which featured skeletons marching around in swimwear. And it made me wonder where this whole “thin is in” thing came from. I think it looks terrible. Personally I don’t find the junkie look sexy in the least. Anyone dating a model these days – not that I’ve ever had the dubious privilege – seems likely to severely injure themselves on a protruding rib.

I know it’s a cliché to say so, but you have to wonder what these images do to young girls.

Because of all the hype, and because of the popularity of shows like Top Model, our fashion industry has a responsibility. And it’s time it did more to discharge it.

Some fashion weeks have instituted a minimum body-mass index for their models, but the Australian version has pooh-poohed this, saying it’ll self-regulate. Well, I’m sorry, but sometimes people with eating disorders – and I think this accurately describes our entire fashion industry at this point, looking at some of the footage from last week – have to be force-fed. They lose the right to make their own decisions about what’s healthy. Well, it’s time we forced Fashion Week onto an intravenous drip.

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