A 14-year-old Polish girl has been dumped from Australian Fashion Week (AFW) after organisers bowed to public pressure to adopt a minimum age of 16 for its models.
The controversial decision to feature 14-year-old Monika Jagaciak in the major Sydney fashion event was reversed "in light of industry and community concern regarding the acceptable age for models".
"Effective immediately, both male and female models participating in Rosemount Australian Fashion Week will need to be at least 16 years of age and must be represented by a model agency," AFW said in a statement.
Monika, who was to have been flown to Sydney for the event which begins on April 28, has previously fronted a campaign for French fashion house Hermes and has been photographed in a white swimsuit being sprayed by a shower jet.
Vogue magazine added to the pressure for an age limit of 16 to be adopted, saying it would not feature Monika in its AFW coverage.
AFW founder Simon Lock said he was happy to take the lead from the community.
"Policies are constantly revisited and endorsed by the AFW's industry advisory board to ensure the event best served the industry and reflected community attitudes towards issues surrounding the fashion industry," Mr Lock said.
Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive officer Joe Tucci said it was a responsible but belated position.
"I think it is a long overdue decision because it recognises that children shouldn't be pushed into an adult world without us thinking about the consequences," Dr Tucci said.
"It finally recognises kids need to be protected engaging in adult-type activities.
"It also puts us in line with other countries around the world."
However, well-known fashion writer Patty Huntington said AFW organisers had overreacted, and that many famous models began their careers in their early teens.
"It's a contentious issue because some people think that 14-year-olds shouldn't be modelling, but by the same token you may as well say 14-year-old shouldn't be acting either and there are plenty of child actors," Ms Huntington told Macquarie Radio.
"Gemma Ward would not have been able to participate in fashion week and Twiggy and Kate Moss would not have been able to participate in London fashion week - both of those models started when they were 15."
Dr Tucci said the key difference was that child actors portrayed children, while child models often portrayed adults.
Earlier Friday, the NSW government said it was "comfortable" with the involvement of the 14-year-old model in AFW, provided organisers complied with their legal obligations.
These included ensuring she was given frequent breaks, worked shorter hours than adults and did not appear in "inappropriate" situations.
"As long as those standards are maintained, and she works within the requirements of our legislation under the guidance of the Children's Guardian, then NSW is comfortable," Community Services Minister Kevin Greene said.
But NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said Monika's involvement was "simply unacceptable".
"The fashion industry made it clear that no models should be employed under 16 and that's where it ought to end," Mr O'Farrell told reporters.
"Those who employed a 14-year-old have a lot to answer at a time when particularly young girls are under enormous stress in relation to body image."
Friday Apr 11 16:54 AEST