Fur fight on Melbourne Spring Fashion Week Runway

Updated: Mar 13, 2019

9 September 2011

Four prominent Australian fashion designers featured real fur in their 2010 winter collections: Camilla Franks, Alannah Hill, Lisa Ho and Rachel Gilbert. Franks used raccoon and fox pelts, while the others preferred rabbit. Australian Vogue editor, Kirstie Clements, predicts increasing use of fur in Australian collections in the future, as the trend filters down from the international stage.

Molly Herben, a fourth year RMIT graduate student, was asked to pull her hand-made rabbit fur pieces from the collection she was due to show at Melbourne Town Hall on Saturday night.

Despite assurances from festival organisers that she was happy with the decision, an event was posted on Facebook in Herben’s name entitled ‘ruined dreams’

“I have been treated badly. If you care about someone losing a years worth of work and losing all creative authority please call (Lord Mayors Office) and complain about his part in denying a design student her right to show her work to the public she was promised she could,” the posting, under Herben’s name said.

The Facebook event was removed late yesterday afternoon.

MSFW organisers issued a statement via Twitter on Wednesday night saying, “Designers using fur have been asked not to include these garments in MSFW. We make no judgment on use of fur, leather & suede more broadly.”

The backdown follows a vocal PETA protest which interrupted the festivals gala opening night parade on Tuesday.

Fellow design student Jack Loder withdrew pieces incorporating feathers and fur from his collection.

Loder said he was happy to amend his collection to protect the other designers in his emerging designers exhibition.

“I didn’t think I was going to be hurting anyone but there are 10 other designers in my exhibition and it is fine if people want to vandalise my work but not everyone else’s so I made the decision to remove it,” Loder said

City of Melbourne spokesperson Beck Angel told the Herald Sun both emerging designers were fine about removing animal feathers and fur from their collections.

The Herald Sun was unable to contact Herben, who was closeted away yesterday reworking her designs.

The Facebook event in Herben’s name also said: “I have been working on this collection for the entire year and for it to be pulled from under my feet three days before the show is devastating and ridiculous,” she writes.

“Four pieces which were seen to be a threat to those attending the parade and to the models wearing the pieces were cut. I now have to re-make all my pieces in leather which is ridiculous as it is an animal product also.”

“If they had an issue they should have addressed it before I spent my entire year, bank balance and sanity working on them.”

Co-Program Director of Fashion in the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT University Karen Webster released a statement late yesterday saying: “RMIT supports the decision by Melbourne Spring Fashion Week on the exclusion of fur from shows and exhibits, following a protest this week.

An RMIT student who had used fur as a design element is currently reworking some garments in her collection to replace the fur with other materials.

The students collection will feature in the Melbourne Spring Fashion Week RMIT student runway show, as planned.”

Herben’s employer from and former RMIT fashion graduate, Nadia Napreychikov says it is `outrageous’ that Molly has been subjected to this change so late in the lead up to the show.

“She is devastated. She was under the impression she could use the pelts all year and then three days before her big show they decide to pull it. We don’t know why RMIT and MSFW are doing this bowing down to PETA.” Napreychikov says.

“She has more than 70 family and friends coming to see her exhibition and now she has to change it. She has all her friends trying to her help her fix it, she is not happy.”

PETA Australia spokesperson, Ashley Fruno says it is a victory for animals.

“It is wonderful news. The school is setting a really good example, they get an A plus for ethics,” she says.

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