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Scouse model punches topless Femen activist at Paris Fashion Week

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Dramatic, theatrical elements are pretty much guaranteed during Fashion Weeks, as designers try to create spectacular settings and fantastical clothes to impress journalists, critics and buyers ahead of the next season.  But it’s unlikely that anyone quite expected the drama that broke out during Nina Ricci’s runway show in Paris Fashion Week - when topless Femen protestors crashed the catwalk.

While perhaps not an overly surprising move in itself, British model Hollie-May Saker’s reaction definitely added to the histrionics. Ms Saker was walking in the Nina Ricci show as the protestors stormed and, as a member of the radical feminist group grabbed her by the arm, she retaliated and apparently inadvertently punched said protestor in the face.

Ms Saker explained: "I punched her – I didn’t mean to but she grabbed my arm and I just wanted to get her off me…I was the 19th girl out of the catwalk and I could hear screaming behind me…As she grabbed by arm she lifted my skirt, exposing me – I pulled my arm back with such force that I landed a punch square on her nose.

"I was so angry but I knew I had to be professional so I carried on walking with a bit of sassiness. I had been looking forward to the Nina Ricci show for so long, whether I was modelling in it or not, it’s such a beautiful collection."

The Ukrainian protest group was escorted away by security, while Ms Saker continued her turn on the catwalk.  She later tweeted how angry she was that "that bitch ruined my walk", jokily adding that she "knew the Scouser in me was bound to come out eventually during fashion week."

Femen activists have previously protested against Versace for using ‘anorexic’ models, and crashed Germany’s Next Top Model finale. It was at first unclear precisely what Femen were addressing this time around, as they ran topless across the stage with slogans such as ‘Fashion dictaterror’ and ‘Model don’t go to brothel’ scrawled across their bare breasts. However, the group has issued its own statement on the demonstration via its website:

"This way FEMEN protest against exploitative fashion industry with its beauty standards. Women sacrifice their private life and health for this dirty male business, that seeks to exploits women in every possible way. 

"FEMEN calls for necessarily quick attack on fashion dictatorship as one of main development of sex-industry and beauty standards for women. 

"We threat all PIMPs and fashion dictators by our bare breasts attack. We will follow you until your exploitative traditions will disappear. FEMEN will not stop until each and every woman on this planet, will wake up from the suppressors dream and will reclaim her body to proclaim her own rules about everything. We claim our body for ourselves; we reclaim our sexuality and our stolen beauty! We rebel against the exploitation of women in the fashion industry!"

Fair enough, the fashion industry is a controversial one, viewed by some as discriminatory and damaging in its attitudes. But, by communicating its message in a rather unclear way, it is difficult to judge the impact that Femen’s act will have once Paris Fashion Week is over and the media has moved on again. At present, given that it seems to have been largely reported as a somewhat bizarre and, really, rather funny incident, any notion of seismic change they were hoping to achieve seems unlikely to be realised any time soon.




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