Aussie fashion designer Camilla Franks has spoken out about the wheelchair inaccessible runway that was used in the closing show at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. This comes after the show, which included her and 17 other designers, has come under fire after footage emerged of models who use wheelchairs struggling to move freely on decorative streamers.
According to Franks, the entire design of the stage was completely out of her control, and lead to unwanted hindrances for her models who were wheelchair users.
Franks detailed the fact that she and her fellow designers had no say in the matter of runway design in the comments section of a So Dramatic Instagram post.
Megan Pustetto, who runs So Dramatic, created a post calling Franks out for the runway being inaccessible to her models who were wheelchair users, causing them to become stuck on decorative streamers and unable to move freely.
“Sydney Fashion Week concluded last week with a joint show featuring many premier Australian labels including Camilla by Camilla Frank and PE Nation by Pip Edwards,” Pustetto wrote on Instagram.
“In perhaps an attempt to make up for the lack of inclusivity in fashion over the years, the shows from both designers included models in wheelchairs. However, despite this, the runway was not made to be wheelchair accessible, leaving both models unable to move freely and even stuck on the set props at times. Both brands have come under fire for ableism and tokenism.
“Do you think it’s enough to simply be ‘inclusive’ or does more consideration and care need to be taken?”
This summoned Franks to the comments section, where she immediately proceeded to clear the air and provide us with her side of the story.
“Fact check: 18 designers joined a group show we didn’t produce. In line with our values we requested models inclusive of shape, gender, size, age, ability and so much more,” Franks wrote.
“There was nothing on the runway at the rehearsal and it was to our surprise to see it covered in streamers upon the doors opening. The set design was an external production decision that we were not a part of.
“If you’re going to write something for spurious headlines please be correctly informed. Shame on you for not celebrating an amazing moment and shame to any reputable publication that reposts this rubbish.”
In case you missed it, there were two instances of models getting stuck on streamers throughout the show, and both were called out on TikTok. The first included model Rheed McCracken.
The second instance involved model Lisa Cox, who was actually helped off the stage by Camilla Franks herself once she became stuck.
In response to Franks’ explanation, many commenters proceeded to absolutely rip into her, claiming that despite the matter being out of her control, she should have been more considerate before sending wheelchair users down a runway that could potential endanger or embarrass them.
Musician Kira Puru even joined the fray, with a huge takedown of Franks’ argument in the comments section.
“You can’t have it both ways, you either wanna make your runways inclusive; which means ACCESSIBLE AND SAFE as well as visually diverse… OR you don’t,” she wrote.
“If you’re sending any model down any runway that is unsafe or inaccessible for them, it is nothing more than a half-baked, performative and DANGEROUS choice rather than one in the spirit of true inclusivity. It’s shocking to know that you were surprised to see the set design but still sent your models, your employees, down that runway anyway knowing full well it would be physically difficult to navigate.
“The fact you turn around after people in the community have tried to educate you and call it an ‘amazing moment’ rather than apologising for your grave and harmful oversight actually proves how shallow a choice it was to include folks using mobility aids in the show in the first place.” she continued.
“Your amazing moment is nothing more than a desperate grab for woke brownie points and it is blatantly obvious to seemingly everyone but you.”
Franks is yet to respond back, but you can read the multiple comments lambasting her underneath the So Dramatic post for yourself. It’s definitely a wild ride. Many points were made.