SYDNEY — Australian Fashion Week organizer IMG Fashion Asia Pacific said Friday that it will ban models who are under 16 years old.
The next installment of the event is April 28 though May 2 at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal.
The decision followed controversy over a provocative publicity image of Polish IMG model Monika Jagaciak that had been released by IMG to a Sydney newspaper, among others, more than a week ago. The image depicted Jagaciak posing under a shower in a wet swimsuit. Jagaciak’s age, 14, was revealed only after the image was published. Vogue Australia editor Kirstie Clements subsequently canceled a planned cover shoot with Jagaciak.
A front page story in a Sydney newspaper Friday focused on whether Jagaciak is too young for fashion week. The same question was never asked of Gemma Ward, who was 15 when she made her Australian Fashion Week debut in May 2003 or of another Australian model, Tallulah Morton, who was 13 when she made her debut at the event two years later.
Last year Vogue Australia came under fire from the Family Council of Victoria after featuring 15-year-old New Zealand model Katie Braatvedt on the magazine’s August cover. In addition, former prime minister John Howard was involved in a separate controversy over the decision to promote a 12-year-old model as the face of Gold Coast Fashion Week.
In the wake of the ban, Premier Morris Iemma of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, revealed government figures indicating that the number of underage children in New South Wales who are modeling has grown 600 percent since 2006 — and announced plans to raise the registration age for models from 15 to 16.
Jagaciak was due to be part of a contingent of almost 20 IMG Development models being flown in for the event.