Snedden halt to models career When morals gets in the way of fashion but lends a hand in self-promotion

Melbourne City Councillor, Fiona Snedden, has pulled the plug on teen model’s fashion career – the reason she is only 15. Cr Sneden considers she is morally bound to object to the girl who was chosen to be the face of Melbourne fashion week to strut the cat walk.

The fashion industry is a tough business and when mixed with petty politics it becomes even tougher.

Teen model, Claire Quirk, who turn 16 on the day of the Melbourne Spring Fashion Festival had her parent’s approval who also accompanied her on assignments as she pursued a career in modelling.

Cr Sneden claims that as a mother she has the right to veto the choice of the Fashion festival selectors and organisers and decide what is best.

At 15 a person can legally leave school and take up employment as a waitress, nurse or trades person apprentice. Even childhood performance stars, as we saw every week on the Young Talent Team a TV series that sparked multi-million dollar careers at a younger age can take up show business career but not it appears in the modelling industry according to Cr Sneden.

Undoubtedly Cr Sneden thought of the influence it would have on other young teenagers of Clair’s age. I wonder if she thought about the moral dilemma and effect on young children when she was pulled over for being over the limit?

Teen dumped as face of fashion week

Claire Quirk (left): Her fashion festival gala appearance cancelled
because she's only 15.

Claire Quirk (left): Her fashion festival gala appearance cancelled because she’s only 15.
Photo: Mario Borg

July 17, 2007

Melbourne City Council has dumped the face of its coming Melbourne Spring Fashion Week because of her age.

Fifteen-year-old Claire Quirk was to be crowned “the face” of the fashion week, and appear on catwalks at many of the festival’s 142 events.

Ms Quirk, a year 11 student accompanied to all public appearances by her parents or a chaperone, turns 16 on the day she was to tread the catwalk at the opening gala of the festival, which runs from September 3 to 9.

But Cr Fiona Sneden, who chairs the council’s business committee, objected to the selection choice of such a young girl by the Melbourne City Council’s marketing officers.

“As a parent, I have a fundamental issue about this,” she said. “Fifteen is just too young. There needs to be a time when we stop and say, ‘Is it wrong to have models this young?’, doesn’t there?”

The council’s move follows the British fashion industry panel’s Model Health Inquiry, which last week recommended banning models aged under 16 from London Fashion Week.

The British report called for a scientific study into the prevalence of eating disorders among fashion models, and an investigation into whether a minimum body-mass index requirement should be introduced for London Fashion Week models, a measure already adopted by Madrid fashion week.

Australia’s main fashion industry body supported the restrictions on models younger than 16 working at big fashion shows, saying younger teenagers were ill-equipped to face issues such as sexualisation, alcohol and rejection.

Australian Fashion Council manager Zoe Edquist said yesterday that Melbourne’s fashion festivals were “adult environments”, and that younger teenage models must be chaperoned.

Ms Edquist, whose organisation represents more than 200 fashion businesses, said: “Children under the age of 16 – and they are really children – are in a very adult industry. It’s not an adult industry in the way the pornography industry is adult, but it is a grown-up environment.”

If the environment was properly controlled, there was not a problem, Ms Edquist said. Once children were older than 16, they would be able to handle themselves. “I think 16 is the age of consent, but I think it’s also generally considered an age when young people are able to handle themselves in a grown-up environment.”

Cr Snedden, who has a seven-year-old daughter, also objected to having such a young face as the figurehead of the festival because it was “the wrong demographic” to attract shoppers to Melbourne.

“The demographic we are pitching to is a young, savvy gen X and gen Y demographic, and to women who are my age,” said Cr Snedden, 51.

Ms Quirk and her parents yesterday declined to speak to The Age about Melbourne Spring Fashion Week.

But her agency, Chadwick Models, said she would have made an excellent face of the festival.

“We don’t want her to be singled out as the model that was dumped as the face of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week because she was too young,” Chadwick model booker Lyli Estalote said.

“She is almost 16, but we understand the conservativeness of society.”

Ms Quirk until recently lived in Singapore with her parents, Ms Estalote said. “She was probably Singapore’s most photographed model.”