New York Fashion Week always give us plenty of things to talk about from models to fashion trends to who is sitting in the front row looking fabulous. One of the highlights of NYFW so far came when 18 year old Madeline Stuart, a model with Down syndrome, walked the runway.
Madeline walked in the Hendrik Vermeulen Spring 2016 fashion show. She appeared in several different outfits. She walked the runway arm-in-arm with two gorgeous male models with full-on jellyfish body paint while wearing a cute printed tank top and coordinating shorts and statement gold wedges. For another look, Madeline wore an elaborate ivory gown. The dress has an asymmetrical neckline with gold detailing on the bodice and exaggerated hips. A swirl of blue face paint accented both of her looks. Madeline also had the honor of walking out with designers Hendrik Vermeulen and Jean-Daniel Meyer-Vermeulen.
Madeline is originally from Brisbane, Australia. Her website discusses how she got into modeling because she wants alter people’s perceptions about Down syndrome: “Maddy really wants to change the way people discriminate against disability through gaining attention through social media. She wants people to know that Down syndrome is a blessing, something to be celebrated.”
In addition to her walking in the Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week show, Madeline has appeared on the runway in New York to raise awareness about auto immune illness. She is the first model with Down syndrome to be named the face of cosmetics company. She’s fronting the campaign for Glossigirl cosmetics. Handbag company EverMaya have also named a bag after her, “The Madeline.” The bag’s sales will be donated to the National Down Syndrome Society. There is plenty more on the horizon for Madeline. She’ll be traveling around the world for her career and she has been nominated for numerous awards.
The fashion industry frequently gets called out for its lack of diversity, especially on the runway, so it’s great to see models like Madeline at major fashion weeks, securing various jobs and helping to change the face of fashion.
Other people who are helping redefine what it means to be a runway model include American Horror Story star Jamie Brewer. She made history when she become the first person with Down syndrome to walk at New York Fashion Week at last season’s shows. The Carrie Hammer fashion show is also known for featuring people in their shows with all different abilities. Their philosophy is to feature “role models not runway models. They featured Karen Crespo, a quadruple amputee, in their Spring 2015 runway show as well as models with wheelchairs.
Fashion is about expressing your individuality and that idea should be reflected with the choice of models. We shouldn’t be seeing a show where you can’t differentiate one person from another because they all look like clones. That’s not what the real world looks like so it shouldn’t be on the runway. A runway should be inclusive and people like Madeline are helping to change that.
(Photo: Chance Yeh/Getty Images)