This year’s New York Fashion Week definitely surpassed itself in terms of innovation and originality – not because of the “modest opulence” style that was recurrent in a lot of fashion shows, especially in the remarkable Michael Kors’ collection, but because of the unusual and pioneering use of models. In fact, one of the biggest highlights of this year’s edition was certainly the judicious and daring selection of models. While fashion weeks are mostly attended by the elite of the society, also know as the wealthy ones who are fuelled by distinction, desirability and elegance, we often forgets that the clothes presented are actually made for people like you and me. It seems that fashion designers are starting to value more the customers they are dressing rather than the clothes themselves.
The diversity presented at Fall 2015 undeniably made a big impression at NYFW. We have already started to recognize a need for a variety of gender, sexuality ethnicities, silhouettes and physical conditions amongst the fashion industry especially with the rise of Winnie Harlow, a Canadian model diagnosed with vitilego. However, this week’s past groundbreaking events illustrate how the fashion industry is not only in need for fresh faces, but also for fresh mentalities.
We were able to observe this urging need for variety in this year Fashion Weekwhen actress Jamie Brewer, the first ever New York Fashion Week’s model with Down syndrome, strutted down the runway for Designer Carrie Hammer. Hammer’s “Role Models not Runway Models” campaign allowed Brewer to make her debut into the modeling career as she had the privilege to wear one of the designer’s original creations. Jamie Brewer has gained popularity and recognition through the recurring role she has had since 2011 in Ryan Murphy’s horror television series called “American Horror Story”. Hammer’s campaign puts forth the idea that beauty is no longer a matter of attractiveness and artificiality; it is held in the person’s moving journey, distinctive deeds and remarkable singularities.
This type of campaign has also been done back in 2013 when Pro Infrimis, a Swiss charity organization for people with disabilities, created special mannequins reflecting bodies of people with physical infirmities for a project titled, “Because Who is Perfect? Get Closer.” This was done in order to raise awareness of the lack of representation of people with disabilities, especially in the world of fashion and retail.
On the same note, later, this week, another barrier was broken during the Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week when FTL MODA enlisted a group of disabled models to walk down the runway. During its show titled “Loving You”, the Italian company, who teamed up with Fondazione Vertical, an Italian research organization for spinal cord injuries, displayed bold and fashion-forward designs created by Antonio Urzi. These audacious, sixties “space-aged” inspired outfits were sported by catwalkers bound by wheelchairs or supported by canes and even by some amputees. These inspiring models proved us that a physical ailment, used as an audacious political and social statement in this context, can be very fashionable and trendy. The ideahere is to start seeing these people as beautiful, inspiring and phenomenal individuals instead of inferior and disabledpersons. In the end, what your mouth has to say is 10 times more valuable than what your figure has to show.
Whether it might be simply a clever marketing strategy or even a social rebellion, I personally hope the minority segmentation will expand into the fashion industry and that diversity will no longer be a taboo in the world of beauty.