Fashion isn’t the only thing people talk about during fashion week. Nope, in the last couple of years it has become the mecca for pushing boundaries when it comes to beauty and style. For a very long time society has been taught to “fit in” but more and more we are seeing designers, brands, and bloggers showing the fashion world that representation of real human beings is something that is becoming a big trend, and one we hope is here to stay.
The fall fashion week extravaganzas which take over London, New York, Paris and Milan for 1 week each every year are well under way and New York started off the season with a double whammy. While we are sure there were plenty of amazing designs being shimmied down the runways, we’re more interested in the people who wore the clothes, and specifically people who aren’t the same cookie cutter-type models we’re used to seeing.
Designer Carrie Hammer has made NYFW history for the second time, this time featuring a model who was a quadruple amputee. In February (for the Spring/Summer season) she made headlines by using a model in a wheelchair for her show for the first time ever at Fashion Week. The idea behind Carrie’s line is to use “role models not runway models” to show that every human body has a place not only in this world, but hey also in fashion too!
Danielle Sheypuk, who is a psychologist & disability rights advocate proudly made her way down the runway earlier this year and since then the bar was set pretty high. Who would be the only one to top it? Carrie herself, when just this past week she cast Karen Crespo who is a quadruple amputee with 4 prosthetic limbs for her show. Karen saw how Carrie used wheelchair model Danielle Sheypuk in her previous fashion week show and contacted the designer to be involved with her brand somehow.
Karen lost all four limbs due to bacterial meningitis. She also had $100,000 worth of prosthetics from her porch. But despite these difficult circumstances, Karen saw how Carrie used her designs to inspire other people and reached out to her to do the same for other amputees. She also received new prosthetics thanks to Carrie and a company called Hangar Inc. who she teamed up with to build the limbs she needed.
Carrie Hammer told the ‘Today’ show that having Karen in her latest show was a huge honor, because she is a believer in the message that “beauty lies in our differences.”
“There isn’t one slim ideal beauty, but that’s what fashion has become all about. My line is all about highlighting the beauty in the differences, and making sure that the women feel confident and beautiful in their individualities.”
Being part of Carrie’s show was a huge deal for Karen, who was in a dark place personally before she saw Danielle Sheypuk on the runway the previous season. It affected her self-view in a way she now hopes her appearance will inspire others.
“Before then, I was in a dark place where I was embarrassed about being an amputee,” she said. “I was still in that transitioning phase of getting used to my new life. It was very hard. I never thought in a million years I would be at New York Fashion Week, even as a spectator. And now I’m going to be a fashion role model. It’s such a big deal for me.”
Carrie Hammer also cast a transgender women, a race car driver, a veteran and government workers to model her clothing at the fall show proving diversity is the way forward in fashion.
“I don’t think about ‘OK who is black or who is disabled?’ I just think: ‘Who is awesome?'” she told Mic. “It’s not about singling anyone out, but rather about showing that every single person is beautiful.” Clearly her version of beauty is very different to what we have been told by the fashion industry itself. And this definition is something we can definitely get behind.
Aside from Carrie Hammer showing the rest of the industry what true representation looks like, a group of designers dressed a group of military service women as part of the ‘Salute the Runway’ show. Big names like Calvin Klein Michael Kors and Betsey Johnson donated dresses worn by 14 women, some of whom have served in combat Afghanistan and Iraq. These women had their makeup done by makeup guru Bobbi Brown and were taught basic runway walking lessons by Victoria’s Secret angel Hilary Rhoda.
The show was sponsored by Little Black Dress Wines and Fatigues to Fabulous, a campaign to honor and support America’s military women.
Retired Army Capt. Leslie Nicole Smith, 45, who lost her left leg and eyesight in 2001 while serving in Bosnia, walked the runway accompanied by her seeing eye dog.
“This is life-changing. This is the most memorable event. We do need this awareness. As [female veterans] come back, they need to be recognized for their service,” she said.
We are so thrilled to see a slice of the real world being rep’d on the major runways of the fashion world, and we have a feeling this is not just a one off. Here’s to the next Carrie Hammer show and any other designers who decide diversity is also a great theme to base their designs and shows around.
Check out the video below of quadruple amputee Karen Crespo talking about her appearance in Carrie Hammer’s show: