Models with disability at Australian Fashion Week

And a model with HSP for Victoria’s Secret

For the first time, adaptive fashion modelled by people with disabilities has featured in its own runway show at Australian Fashion Week.

Models Suzanne Berry, Cleo Hayden and Jason Clymo pose after the Adaptive Fashion show at Sydney’s Carriageworks. Credit: Brook Mitchell

“This is a moment,” model Jason Clymo, who is in a wheelchair, said backstage. “I’m hoping that it’s a stepping stone towards a greater level of change in the industry.

“To see the biggest fashion event in Australia representing people with disabilities, providing opportunities for designers of clothing for people with disabilities is critical in terms of shifting what is happening at the grassroots. People with disabilities struggle to find clothing that actually suits our needs all the time and fits our bodies.”

For the founders of Jam the Label, occupational therapists Emma Clegg and Molly Rogers, the show was an opportunity to educate those in the front row more familiar with Prada than the challenges of prosthetics, using video messages from the models as well as their inventive designs.

The clothing aims to make dressing easier and more stylish for people with physical disabilities.

The Adaptive Clothing Collective runway featured inclusive and expressive clothing with designs including magnetic buttons, zip-up shoes and temperature control fabrics. The show featured 10 models with disability, including advocate Lisa Cox, actor Chloe Hayden and 2021 Queensland Australian of the Year Dr. Dinesh Palipana.

Brands ‘JAM the Label’and ‘Christina Stephens’ were among those featured. ‘Christina Stephens’ label co-founder Carol Taylor began designing her own clothes after becoming quadriplegic. “Fashion didn’t accommodate me. I felt very lonely and very excluded … when I started to design for myself, I found my voice,” she said. “Mainstream fashion needs to wake up and see there is a demand for this.”

Miriam Blanco

Almost simultaneously in the USA, a model living with HSP is one of the faces representing lingerie staple Victoria’s Secret. Miriam Blanco is part of the brand’s Love Cloud campaign. The collection, announced on Valentine’s Day, is being called a first-of-its-kind campaign by Victoria’s Secret and features a diverse group of 18 models. In recent years, companies including Target, Walgreens and OshKosh B’gosh have increasingly chosen to feature models living with disability.

Miriam was originally diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was one, but was re-diagnosed by Dr. Brent Fogel (UCLA Neurogenetics) in 2017 with HSP SPG3A. 

She studied advertising at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and moved to New York City for her first job as an art director. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she found a passion for acting and a responsibility to represent the disabled community in TV, film, and advertising. 

Miriam loves to be active, being a regular gym-goer most of her adulthood. Recently, she has begun playing wheelchair basketball and learning to box. 

SOURCES:

SBS News, 12 May

Adaptive fashion runway makes its debut at Australian Fashion Week

Read more

Brisbane Times, 12 May

Making room for every shape, size and ability on the runway

Damien Woolnough

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Disability Scoop, 17 February

Model With Down Syndrome Is First For Victorias Secret

Shaun Heasley

Read more

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