Model with Down syndrome Madeline Stuart wears a live snake as a scarf

Fashion designer Madeline Stuart walks the runway for the 21 Reasons Why by Madeline Stuart fashion show during New York Fashion Week NYFW Art Hearts Fashion at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on Monday in New York City. (Photo by Arun Nevader/Getty Images for Art Hearts Fashion)

Madeline Stuart channeled her inner Taylor Swift and brought snakes to the runway for the showcase of her newest collection. The model and designer with Down syndrome presented her label, 21 Reasons Why, for the second year in a row at New York Fashion Week, only this time many of the bodies on the catwalk were cold-blooded.


The show, titled “Snakes Alive, Girl Gone Wild,” was part of Art Hearts Fashion at NYFW. During the show, models stormed the runway barefoot in Stuart’s colorful and sparkly multipatterned designs. As far as accessories go, that’s where the snakes came in. None of the models seemed scared of the snakes, least of all Stuart. As is tradition, the Australian designer came out onto the runway at the end of the show. She was wearing a multicolored psychedelic dress with thigh-high suede boots. She had a bright yellow snake draped over her shoulders, and she stroked and kissed it. “Big thank you to @newyorkrentasnake for lending me Lucy,” Stuart later captioned a collage of photos from the night on Instagram.


Stuart clearly isn’t afraid of snakes. In another photo featuring Stuart and Lucy, the 20-year-old wrote, “missing my beautiful Lucy from my show last night. A huge thank you to @newyorkrentasnake for letting me share the runway with her.” She also posted a video of herself practicing with the snake, in which she looks very comfortable. And so does the snake.


Stuart became a household name after making her NYFW debut in 2015 during FTL Moda’s Spring 2016 runway show. She was cast in the show after a video her mother posted of her went viral. Her mom posted it with the hopes of shifting people’s perceptions of what it’s like to live with a disability. Since then, Stuart has landed multiple advertising campaigns and international acclaim for drawing attention to the cause, and has walked in multiple fashion weeks. And, of course, launched her own line.

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