Moscow Fashion Week is rolling along quite well, literally. On Thursday, models using wheelchairs hit the runway for the NP Open World collection show at the Gostiny Dvor shopping center.
They modeled everything from red wrap dresses and leather pants to velvet gowns and tulle headpieces created by Open World, a nonprofit partnership helping to integrate people with disabilities, according to the Daily Mail. The women in wheelchairs, who ranged in age, were joined by other models who walked the runway. The mix of models proves that there is no one way to define beauty.
The show was so much more dynamic since it featured models of varying heights (some sitting, some standing) — not just one tall woman after another walking down the runway.
Russia has integrated disabled people into the fashion industry for many years.
This past October, Bezgraniz Couture’s spring/summer 2017 collection during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Russia also featured disabled models. According to the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week website, Bezgraniz Couture, which was founded by Janina Urussowa and Tobias Reisner, “promotes the creation of high-end design for the new emerging market: customers with disabilities.” The brand’s motto is, “Changing the world of fashion — we change the world.” And Bezgraniz Couture became the first brand in the world to present “functional and stylish collections for people with disabilities” during Fashion Week Russia, according to the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week website.
In 2014, designers presented collections made specifically for people with physical disabilities during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Russia. The show was called Fashion Without Borders and featured designers such as Oksana Livencova, Sabina Gorelik and Dmitriy Neu. The show featured male and female models with different disabilities. The looks included a tattooed model in a black-and-white tuxedo-style vest with a cascading train designed by Gorelik. Another model wore a blue turtleneck sleeveless sweater paired with a purple, white, yellow, and blue patterned floor-length skirt, and a model in a wheelchair showcased a Daria Razumikhina design that included a long yellow cardigan.
According to the Daily Mail, the show was focused on “increasing awareness of disability in the fashion industry and is part of a four-day fashion event in Moscow that features over 30 designers.”
But Russia isn’t the only country expanding its model base. On Feb. 6, 2014, Danielle Sheypuk made history by becoming the first woman to ever work the runway at New York Fashion Week in a wheelchair. “I would like the whole spectrum of fashion designers to tune in, all the way up to high fashion like Tory Burch, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton because, why not?” Sheypuk said of her goal in doing the show. That was Carrie Hammer’s debut fashion show, which she dubbed “Role Models Not Runway Models.” At that show, while most of the other models — who were of varying ages, body shapes, and ethnicities — wore mostly solid-colored dresses, Sheypuk stood out in a newspaper print skirt, a black multifabric blouse, and a dangling beaded necklace as she graced the runway in her wheelchair. A few months later, Hammer included Karen Crespo, a stunning quadruple amputee, in her group of “Role Models, Not Runway Models” for her second New York Fashion Week show. That day, Crespo became the first ever quadruple amputee to appear in a New York Fashion Week show. Then, a year later, American Horror Story’s Jamie Brewer was cast in Hammer’s show, becoming the first woman with Down syndrome to walk at New York Fashion Week.
A few days later, FTL Moda teamed up with Fondazione Vertical, an Italian research organization for spinal cord injuries, to include a group of disabled models for its Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week presentation. The models included amputees, wheelchair users, and women using crutches. And if you think that’s innovative, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The futuristic looks from international designers like Rozalia Bot and Simply Vermeulen consisted of wild yet sleek updos and silver eye makeup and body paint. One outfit was a sheer lace jumpsuit with a plunging neckline. Another, more elegant look featured a model in a wheelchair wearing a maroon Hendrik Vermeulen ensemble that included a skirt with a beautiful painting on it. A model with a crutch wore a crazy chain ensemble that didn’t cover much — her nipples were exposed. That look required lots of silver body paint.
Luckily, the list goes on.
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