Topless feminists clashed with police as they protested against the use of anorexic models outside the Versace fashion show in Milan yesterday.
The protesters, from the feminist group Femen, wore jeans and handwritten slogans such as ‘Fashion = Fascism’ and ‘Anorexia’ scrawled across their bare chests.
The three attractive women – understood to be model themselves – chanted outside the high-end fashion show while holding aloft handmade placards with the same mottos and ‘Models do not go to brothels’.
But Italian police forcibly blocked the protesters when they approached the entrance to the Versace Fall-winter 2012-2013 show during the Milan Womenswear Fashion Week.
Donatella Versace’s own daughter and heir to the fashion throne, Allegra, has been battling anorexia for years.
The fashion house sparked controversy at previous fashion shows last year over its use of incredibly thin models.
Femen is a Kiev-based provocative women’s movement in Ukraine, founded in 2008 by Anna Hutsol.
The organisation became internationally known for organizing topless protests against sex tourists, international marriage agencies, sexism and other social, national and international ills.
The organisation states its goals as ‘to develop leadership, intellectual and moral qualities of the young women in Ukraine’ and ‘to build up the image of Ukraine, the country with great opportunities for women’.
It now appears that campaigning against anorexia has shot to the forefront of their agenda following the continued use of size zero models in fashion shows across the globe despite increasing media and social pressure to put an end to the practice.
The protest comes just two days before America’s National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) Week that starts tomorrow.
Following New York Fashion week, the association said the American fashion industry was making steps ‘in the right direction’, after the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) set new guidelines to ensure the health of runway models.
The guidelines include encouraging models who may have an eating disorder to seek professional help and supplying healthy snacks and drinks backstage at shows.
It also recommends that fashion houses do not hire models under the age of 16 for runway shows and not allowing models under 18 to work past midnight.
Calls are now being made for the guidelines to become mandatory.
Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA, said: ‘There are still great strides to be made and we believe that eating disorder screenings for minors should be mandatory.
‘Although these guidelines are good ‘suggestions’, no real health protections exist in this industry for those under 18.
‘That is particularly worrisome in an industry that is not only known for extreme thinness, in fact, it’s practically required – putting its models at dramatically increased risk of developing an illness that has the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness. Minors deserve protection.’