A model aged 13 on Belfast Fashionweek catwalk - runway boss says it's not too young
A top Northern Ireland fashion agent has defended using a 13-year-old model in Belfast Fashionweek, saying Darcy Brittain-Dissont had her mum's full support.
As the glitzy annual fashion showcase kicked off last night, the pretty Lisburn schoolgirl modelled a purple two-piece outfit.
The use of children in the fashion industry remains a controversial issue, with top international fashion house Dior walking into a storm of criticism recently after using a 14-year-old Israeli girl in its Autumn/Winter 2015 show.
But Cathy Martin, the woman behind Belfast Fashionweek, last night said she was confident that schoolgirl Darcy was suitable to be modelling at just 13.
Speaking at the launch of Fashionweek in Belfast city centre, she confirmed Darcy was taking part - and the clothing she was modelling was appropriate.
"Yes. Her mum's here too, her mum is backstage with her.
"Her mum is very, very happy," she said.
"Her mum has approved all of her outfits - as has she (Darcy) and they are all age appropriate.
"The girl is with her parents, she's not being exploited, she's not being used.
"Her parents are both here to support her. They are backstage. Every outfit has been checked, so I don't see a problem."
Sports-mad Darcy, who loves hockey, netball and athletics, hit the headlines earlier this year when it was revealed that the Friends School, Lisburn, pupil had been chosen to model in Northern Ireland's premiere fashion event.
Confident Darcy previously spoke to the Belfast Telegraph about her attitude to modelling, and praised Ms Martin for looking out for her in what is often seen as a cutthroat industry.
"Cathy Martin, my agent, has been brilliant," Darcy said. "She's assured me she won't put me forward for anything which isn't suitable for my age.
"At the minute, modelling is a hobby, as I am very interested in school sports and stuff like that. But hopefully, if I get offered something, I'll take it!"
Her mum, Brenda McCleary (48), told the Belfast Telegraph in August her daughter was excited about her runway debut. She too did not think 13 was too young for the catwalk.
"Darcy is really looking forward to Fashionweek and it'll be a great experience for her," the mother-of-two said.
"I don't think 13 is too young. It depends on the maturity of the person.
"We keep a close eye on her and with the right amount of guidance from myself and from the agency she will be well protected and won't get into anything that we don't want her to do or that we feel is inappropriate.
"She certainly looks good in the photographs and she seems to enjoy modelling, and it'll be nice for her to meet other models at Fashionweek and learn from them."