London Fashion Week and the lack of disabled models



Aimee Mullins for Alexander McQueen


Debbie Van De Putten for La Sanota Lingerie


With London Fashion Week in full flow, I thought there couldn't be a better time to share this post. As an ambassador for disabled representation within the fashion industry, fashion week is always a time that brings mixed feelings to me. I love seeing the new collections and admiring all of the beautiful clothes the designers have brought in for the next season, but whenever I check in and have a browse through all of the days highlights, I feel a sense of disappointment and upset that there are rarely any disabled models, or models with physical abnormalities being seen on the catwalk.





Chelsey Jay and Stef Reid for Models Of Diversity


I featured a blog post earlier this year titled Do disabled people belong in the fashion industry after a disabled model was seen on the runway during New York Fashion Week in the Carrie Hammer show. This was definitely a sight for sore eyes, but the question on my lips is was it a one off? Will other designers follow suit and feature more disabled models in their collection. If the likes of Alexander McQueen - arguably the Queen in more ways than one - have done, there's no reason why any other labels can't do the same.


Alex Minsky for Burkman Bros


Disabled models for BezGraniz Couture


I wanted to include some images in this post of some beautiful and inspiring models who are disabled or have physical abnormalities who have been seen on the runway in the past. These images highlight that disabled people DO have a place in the fashion industry, and disabled people as a whole demographic of people have a right to be represented. 

What's your opinion on disabled models being featured on the runway? I'd love to know your thoughts, leave them in a comment below!



58 comments

  1. LOVE THIS! They are all so beautiful, I wish there was more diabled models on the runways x

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  2. To be realistic, something fashion isn't always, disabled people should indeed be featured. If we make an effort to include all minorities, something not done in the past, then consider this group as another minority. Fashion is a state of mind, not dependent on physical attributes.

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  3. I think that the problem is that disabled people are seen by wider society as being sexless and style-less... Disabled people aren't allowed to have opinions about anything except ramps, as far as a lot of people are concerned. It makes me so angry. I actually saw a little documentary for kids about disabled models a few months ago - I'll see if I can find it for you!

    Owl Girl | A London lifestyle blog

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    1. Sadly, I think you are right. The documentary sounds great, I'd love to see it!

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  4. I adore this post! I think that a lot of the models on the catwalk are unrealistic anyway and don't represent women/men on a whole. I mean, what percentage of the population looks like a model? Very little. I think there are a lot of things that you don't see on the runways that we should see! More curvier women, disabled people and I think it could do with being mixed up a little. People are SO different so why should models all look the same xxxxx

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    1. Thanks Chloe. I agree, I know that realistically clothes do look better on tall thin models, but like you said, it's an unrealistic image. I'd be much more likely to buy something if I saw it on a model that I felt represented me, the high street especially should be using more real looking models. High fashion is a whole different game though.

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  5. If I was a designer, I WOULD make sure there were disabled models in my show. They are all gorgeous in these images but Debbie Van Der Putten in particular. Her disability doesn't take anything away from the beautiful lingerie and that's the point. It's the clothing that's really the focus so more disabled models should be chosen!!

    xo
    www.thisisfrancescarose.com

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    1. Become a designer Francesca ;) I know, she is stunning and like you said her disability doesn't distract from the clothes. The clothing is the focus, but as is selling the clothing to an audience and if you can't imagine yourself in the clothing you're probably less likely to buy it. So many times I've seen beautiful clothes but on 6foot size 6 models and thought 'I could never pull that off with my figure'

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  6. I think this is BRILLIANT. I think using people with disabilities is far more realistic for the audience and actually think more people would buy/wear more things because they can relate more? They all look beautiful x

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  7. These models are proof that disabled people do indeed have a place. Excellent post and images, very inspiring

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    1. Thanks Kate, I completely agree with you.

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  8. Fashion is all about statement and expression, so why do 90% of the models we see not represent that? I think these models oooze charisma and I'd be more likely to buy from a brand of at least admire a brand if I saw them using models of equality! Fantastic blog post!

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  9. it is an interesting topic that you bring up. and honestly, the world of fashion has been generic when it comes to the images it pushes out on the r/w :(
    xx http://1finedai.blogspot.com/

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    1. It is, and that's a shame. Fashion has so many paths and depths and that is not the image that is portrayed on the runway

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  10. Sadly, real people are rarely seen on the catwalk. The photos you shared are amazing and uplifting. I think, of course, disabled models should be seen everywhere. And I don't think I've ever thanked you for your incredible blog! Oh... so... THANKS!

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    1. Almost everyone I speak to has the same opinion, I hope the designers will soon start hearing us and start using more disabled models. Ohhh and thank you!

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  11. Good on you for bringing this up! I would love to see more disabled models in fashion, why do we always see small stick models! We need more real people! Great post Hayley! P.S: I love the new look!

    Lennae xxx
    www.lennae87.wordpress.com

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    1. Thank you Lennae! I've said this to another comment but I think the high street in particular should be using more models that represent real people, especially as the majority of people shop on the high street. High fashion is a different ball game altogether though but if Alexander McQueen has done it in the past, why not any other high end brands?

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  12. Disabled models are the future! Great write up and I love the images

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    1. Haha well let's hope so! Thank you Mel :)

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  13. I think you brought up a really valid point and thanks for making an awareness! We're all beautiful, but the model-industry has a certain kind of "beautiful" (certain weight, certain height etc.) and I think it probably won't adjust to what's normal so I never really care as they don't have an influence on what I - and thankfully people like you - see as beautiful.

    BTW I just discovered your blog and really like it :)

    http://orryginal.com/

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    1. Thank you :) I agree, not that there is anything wrong with models that we see on the runway, but I wish disabled people would be included too. It's not just on the catwalk but it goes for the fashion industry on a whole. They are never represented in shops or online and that is so sad.

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  14. No question about it, these models ought to be featured front and centre in these fashion shows. Disabled people wear clothes like everyone else. Who better to model them than models with a difference.
    Good post Hayley-Eszti!

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    1. Thank you Jim and your opinion reflects that of my own 100%!

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  15. I have long had quibbles with the fashion industry and the unrealistic pressures put on vulnerable youth to conform to one "look" regardless of the fact that physical and emotional health are often compromised. Posts such as yours point out some of those weaknesses. I think the time is ripe for change. Bravo to you for bringing this to our attention.

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    1. It can be a dangerous industry and although there is more awareness now for the image the media are putting out - especially to young people who are particularly vulnerable to falling victim to wanting to look as perfect as the models they see in the magazines, more needs to be done and that is something I am campaigning for.

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  16. I think this is the right time for it- or perhaps better said high time. I've though about this problem a lot. Many people with disability feel the stigma in their everyday life. Often I've heard them complain that the people stare at them. I don't believe people always do that intentionally. I don't think people want to be mean it's just that eye just naturally wonders toward something that is new. However, if disabled people were more present in the media /fashion/etc than people would - without even trying to do so- become more accustomed to it and hence stare less. Why should it be new to people at all is a good question. There are many people with disability in this world but they remain invisible. I think our society has a serious fear of illness and death and while the movies continue to be violent people are still frightened to talk about any aspect of any illness or every trace of violence (for example scars)? In today's world people are afraid to talk about their own health problems, afraid even to visit a doctor- and that is really not normal. This quest for perfection has made us vulnerable as a society, has made us ignore our health and the health of others- forgetting that everyone is different, as a society we tend to react with fear to everything that is outside the norm- and everyone is really outside the norm one way or another. To conclude, including models with disability in the runaways is so much more than political correctness- it could be a start of healing ourselves as a society- for these problems I have spoke of I believe to be very serious.

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    1. I love this comment so much, Ivana. You have really hit the nail on the head and there's a lot of truth in what you say. Thank you for taking the time to comment such a thought provoking comment!

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  17. What a fantastic post. So good to see these images, it made my day.
    http://www.sweetwordsprettypictures.com

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    1. Thank you, Amber. I'm so glad it did! :)

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  18. More diversity in general is definitely needed in the fashion world! But especially when it comes to disabled models, I think disability needs to be shown more in the media all round. x

    Josie’s Journal

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    1. It does. The fashion industry is one of the only industries where disabled people are excluded, and that upsets and angers me in equal parts.

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  19. This is a brilliant post and I have a lot of feelings about it.

    I'm a digital designer, not a clothing designer, but something that comes up over and over again in my own work is this: designing to make something work better for a user with a given disability really, really often makes it work better for lots of other groups of people too, and frequently also has the knock-on effect of making it look more visually appealing. Fashion's a slightly different thing, but what I'm saying I guess is that it doesn't necessarily have to be about compromise - 'will her wheelchair distract from the dress she's wearing?'. Like, thinking about what question differently - what if instead we designed a dress specifically to look amazing in a wheelchair, that hangs especially beautifully when seated or with sleeves that take on a new shape and form when the model pushes the chair? (Like I say, I'm not a clothing designer, but you get the idea ;) )

    What I'm saying I guess is that, if high fashion is about beautiful and daring clothing, I feel like we should be seeing diverse and unusual bodies as incredibly valuable to diverse and unusual design - and as soon as you think about it that way, suddenly the models are beautiful *because* of their disabilities, not in spite of them. Your second photo of Aimee Mullins' gorgeous Alexander McQueen prosthetics is a good example - her legs are solid ash wood with vines and flowers *literally carved into them* and it gives you a colour and texture that you couldn't get with a model who didn't wear prosthetics (they're maybe not the most practical legs for everyday life, but then a lot of high fashion isn't - and it also raises the question, can we make beautiful and desirable prosthetics for everyday use too?) I'd LOVE to see more of that in the fashion industry.

    If we as a culture started thinking more like this about the aesthetics of disability, I do wonder if it might have an effect on social provisions too - if people start thinking in terms of a spectrum of diversity, realising the world isn't split into 'normal' and 'not normal' people, it shakes up how you think about everything, from how accessible transport should work to how jobs and workplaces are structured to the 'best way' to get from one floor to the next in a building. (One interesting thing is the Paralympics - I suspect that in our lifetimes technology will advance enough that, for example, disabled runners using specialised prosthetics will be faster than able-bodied runners. I really think/hope that might force people to at least begin to think differently about what disability means and whether we can reconsider how we've structured society around the idea that 'normal means able-bodied'.)

    If this is interesting to you, Sara Hendren's article All Technology Is Assistive Technology is an amazing article which talks about these ideas in more detail - she doesn't mention fashion specifically but some of her case studies fit into the fashion world, like beautiful jewellery-style hearing aids.

    Sorry for leaving such a HUGE long comment (especially since it's my first comment here - I'm not always this wordy I swear!) - I think about this stuff ALL the time and I think it's so much bigger than just the fashion industry, but that fashion could be a really important part of changing things. I'm so glad you wrote about this!

    - Emma
    Deerful, a geeky lifestyle and DIY blog

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    1. Wow, Emma gets the awards for the longest comment I've ever had! I LOVE your comment. I know Carrie Hammer featured a disabled model earlier this year during New York Fashion Week and she designed her collection with real women in mind, and therefore wanted real women to showcase it and that was something I wish we were seeing more of. I will definitely check out the article you mentioned. Thanks for taking the time to write this and I'm so happy to see that we are on the same wave length with this topic.

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    2. I haven't heard of Carrie Hammer before but her collection looks amazing. Thank you for mentioning her!

      I will definitely be sticking around in your comment section but might not leave quite such long comments in future! Like I say, I have a lot of feelings about this topic :P x

      - Emma
      Deerful, a geeky lifestyle and DIY blog

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  20. I think it's a great idea to include disabled models. It makes the show more interesting and they have opportunity to follow their dreams. Great post and keep up the good work.

    LEJA

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    1. It does make the show more interesting and that's what people want to see. I'm glad you enjoyed this :)

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  21. Hi there! I think this is such a well-written post. I think there should just generally be more diversity in the fashion and beauty world... but you drive a great point home about the lack of disabled models. There's a lack of minorities of all sorts in the fashion world, and it's disappointing considering how diverse our society is.
    You left a comment on my blog, which is why I found yours.
    www.natillie.com
    I'm following you on Bloglovin', please follow me back!

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  22. These photos are gorgeous and there should be more disability models! x

    All white

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  23. Such a brilliant post, I definitely think that they should have more disabled models!! PS love your new blog header!!! X

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    1. Thank you! It doesn't just go for disabled models either, there needs to be more diversity in general!

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  24. I didn't notice anything about any of the models in the photos apart from that they are gorgeous! I had to look back again to find their disabilities.
    I can't see why people with disabilities shouldn't be in the spotlight just as much as non-disabled people....as long as they have the right 'qualifications'/ fit the bill, I'm all for it!!

    Best wishes, Danielle x
    http://underlandtowonderland.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Well that is a good sign! I agree, if they can do they job, they shouldn't be excluded because of their disability, it's not fair.

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  25. I love this! They are so gorgeous and changes the way people view the fashion industry


    www.bumascloset.com

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