Australian Fashion Week — a chance to wear sunglasses at night, for Neighbours stars to suck on tiny champagne bottles, and for newspapers to indulge in some manufactured outrage. 

But this year, along with the usual “Skinny/Fat Model pulled from catwalk” followed by “How skinny/fat is too skinny/fat?” there are angry diggers involved.

Gold Coast Fashion Week upped the ante last year by picking 12-year-old pin-up Maddison Gabriel as their face. They got an outraged comment from the Prime Minister – “quite outrageous” – and the Opposition Leader – “I have real concerns about littlies that young”.

And at Melbourne Fashion week in March, a dead budgerigar – sparked howls of protest from the RSPCA, which triggered the story “Dead bird lands designer in strife” including this remorseful statement:

Matthews’s publicist said the designer was distraught by the turn of events. “Lee is very distressed a budgie died because she loves all Australian wildlife…” 

But no-one quite does outrage like the RSL.

So The Sydney Morning Herald must have known they’d hit pay dirt when they realised that New Zealand designer Kate Sylvester had pinned some replica war medals to her models for the “Royally Screwed” show:

But how did the RSL find out about the models with their replica World War II Allied Service medals “hanging over bare thighs”?

Was the national League President Bill Crews, fresh from expressing outrage over the disrespectful hot air ballooning on Anzac day, squeezed in the front row between Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O?

Not quite. Crews confirmed to Crikey this morning that he received a call from The SMH on Tuesday night, but since he wasn’t available, the reporter went to national secretary Derek Robson instead.

Robson was, yes, outraged. He even used words like “appalling and sickening”.

The story then jumped from The SMH over to Sylvester’s native New Zealand, where New Zealand diggers, and newspapers, were similarly outraged.

“Under fire”, Sylvester dutifully offered up an apology, along with a shot of her remorseful face posing above a clothes rack.

But where does that leave her poor bemedalled models?

Behind bars, suggests The SMH. The paper kicks along the story today by reporting that under the current Defence Act, they “could be imprisoned for up to six months for ‘improper use of service decorations.'”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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