Topless ladies take on fashion

Last updated 10:40 27/09/2013

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The show must go on, and it certainly did at Paris Fashion Week yesterday when two topless protesters from FEMEN stormed the Nina Ricci Spring 2014 runway.

The bare-chested women had the slogans 'Fashion dictaterror' and 'Model don't go to brothel' written on their torsos and were shouting 'fashion fascism' as they ran from one end of the runway to the other before being tackled by a security guard.

What exact element of the fashion industry they were protesting is yet to be announced, although it is likely they were at least in part campaigning against sexualisation in the industry: 'models don't go to brothels' is a play on the group's famous slogan 'Ukraine is not a brothel'. The original chant aims to dismiss the perception that Ukrainian woman are all either sex slaves abroad or prostitutes at home. It is interesting, then, that they chose to protest at a show by Nina Ricci, arguably the most conservative and least risqué of today's big fashion houses. 

FEMEN is a self-described global women's movement, which aims to attack patriarchy in all forms: "FEMEN - is hot boobs, a cool head and clean hands," their official site reads. "The magic of the body gets you interested, the courage of the act makes you want to riot." They have protested at fashion events before: they held signs outside Versace's February Paris show that read 'fascism = fashion' and 'anorexia'; and they crashed Heidi Klum's Germany's Next Top Model final in May.

AND WHAT WAS THE FASHION LIKE? 

Though Nina Ricci's safe spring-summer 2014 show broke no molds, there were some subtle surprises. The ultra-feminine Paris display from designer Peter Copping in sheer whites and pale blues - and a great, bright peacock blue - drew its inspiration in historic tailoring for men. The back column of a waistcoat was to be found placed on the front of a pale striped, fitted jacket.

Elsewhere, what the programme notes describe as a ''redingotes'' (a French corruption of the English 18th century ''riding coat'') appeared as a white technical cotton coat, or a great sequinned tweed coat in a shimmering feminine beige.

The coat lapels hung diagonally out, creating a triangular silhouette, a shape that was to be repeated in many of the diaphanous, almost floaty looks.

A nice detail was the reinvention of the classic men's shirt, transformed in various looks into a dress or skirt. However, the clever effect was somewhat lost since the chosen white hue made detail hard to see. Remember house of Ricci, a bit of colour never hurt anyone.

- AP & Fairfax NZ

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