Sep 22, 2009
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Body shape debate stalks London catwalks

Sep 22, 2009

© 2009 AFP - The debate about skinny models resurfaced at London Fashion Week on Monday 21 September, when a stylist was forced to deny she stormed out of a show because the designer was using larger-than-normal models.

Photo: AFP/File/Ben Stansall

Erika Kurihara told the Guardian newspaper that she left Saturday (19 September)'s show by up-and-coming knitwear designer Mark Fast because they "did not have the right walk for the catwalk" -- but said she had no problem with larger women.

Fast is known for his tight and revealing knitted dresses and has in the past provoked criticism that they would never fit normal women, making his decision to use three curvy women in his catwalk show unusual.

"I celebrate strong, healthy women," Kurihara told the newspaper.

She said: "Two of the bigger girls, although their faces were beautiful and their bodies beautiful, did not have the right walk for the catwalk. The walk is very important, and I wasn't happy.

"Mark was very upset that I didn't share his vision, as he saw it, so he asked me to leave."

Fast was unavailable for comment on Monday 21 September but the Canadian designer's managing director, Amanda May, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that there were "creative differences with regards to the casting of those girls".

"There was a team change and we're glad we stuck to our vision," she said, adding: "There's this idea that only thin and slender women are able to wear Mark's dresses and he wanted to combat that."

Fast had been working with one of the models, Hayley Morley, a British size 12 (European size 40, US size 10), as part of a photo exhibition showcasing some of the best of design talent on different sized women aged 17 to 65.

Sarah Watkinson, director of plus-size model agency 12+ UK Model Management, which provided the three models for Fast's show, welcomed their inclusion in such a high-profile collection.

"It's a brilliant positive step in the right direction for London Fashion Week," she told AFP.

"He made a decision to use girls who are more curvy to express his collection because he felt he wanted to show his knitwear on a curvier body."

The fashion industry has been criticised for using so-called "size zero" models -- those who fit a US size zero -- particularly after the deaths of two South American women who had suffered from eating disorders.

A British report on the health of models in 2007 resulted in a ban on girls under 16 taking part in London Fashion Week.

However, Britain stopped short of measures taken in Spain and Italy, where models with a body mass index (BMI) below a certain level are barred.LONDON, Sept 21, 2009 (AFP)

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