Meet Ireland's next top model - aged only 13
Published 08/08/2015 | 12:32
She is being hotly tipped as Northern Ireland's next top model - even though she's only 13.
Few could argue that Darcy Brittain-Dissont already looks like she belongs on a catwalk.
With her smouldering looks and slender frame, the Hillsborough schoolgirl is set to cause a sensation at this year's Belfast Fashionweek.
She is due to make her debut at the preview of the show's 20th anniversary autumn and winter collection on August 20, before stepping out again on another assignment in October.
Some observers have expressed concern after Fashionweek organiser Cathy Martin posted pictures of the Year 10 Friends School pupil on her Facebook page, arguing she isn't old enough.
But neither Cathy, nor Darcy's parents, think 13 is too young to enter the world of adult modelling.
Her mother Brenda McCleary told the Belfast Telegraph of her daughter's excitement about debuting on the runway.
"Darcy is really looking forward to Fashionweek and it'll be a great experience for her," the 48-year-old mum 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."
The mother-of-two, who works in communications, said she wasn't concerned about men having inappropriate thoughts about her youngest child.
"It doesn't matter what you look like, or who you are, men can have impure thoughts about you," she said. Darcy's tennis coach initially introduced her to PR guru Cathy last December, but the deal was sealed only recently.
"Cathy wanted to wait until Darcy was 13," explained Ms McCleary.
"Now that she has moved into her teenage years she is driven to do well and she's very, very keen to move forward with this.
"It has all happened very quickly since the photos went up on Facebook and there has been a fabulous response."
Darcy's father Tristan Brittain-Dissont (46), a businessman, and the couple's 16-year-old son Bryce, are equally proud of sports-mad Darcy, who loves hockey, netball and athletics.
"Her dad is very pleased, although schoolwork and sport will always be most important," Ms McCleary said.
Ms Martin, who said she was always on the lookout for fresh talent, added that she was very mindful of Darcy's age.
"I take a motherly role almost with the younger girls because it is one of those industries where there's a lot of pressure. If I didn't think someone aged 13 was mature enough to model I wouldn't sign her."
Leading designer Christian Dior recently came in for fierce criticism for selecting a 14-year-old girl as the face of his autumn/winter 2015 show in Paris.
Israeli teen Sofia Mechetner's appearance on the catwalk in Paris wearing a sheer dress sparked an immediate controversy.