18-year-old model Madeline Stuart made global headlines back in September 2015 when she debuted on the runway at New York Fashion Week. The Australian beauty single-handedly tackled society’s view of fashion and beauty, being the first model with Down syndrome to grace the catwalk at this colossal event. Her story was cast worldwide as a catalyst for change, inspiring people everywhere to believe that beauty doesn’t just come in one standard form. And now, Madeline will once again take to the runway in February.
Commenting on Madeline’s career growth, her mother Rosanne Stuart told Daily Mail Australia that while putting the message of diversity out there is helping the fashion industry break barriers, she would ideally like there to be less focus on Madeline at the event next month. Less attention on Madeline would mean that models with a disability are becoming a norm in society, which is what both Madeline and Rosanne are aiming for. ‘If she gets lots of attention it’s amazing because we can speak to the world about inclusion and diversity,’ she said. ‘In a way if she doesn’t get as much attention it means it’s becoming the norm. It’s a win either way.’
Madeline will be representing FTL Moda, the same label she walked for at last year’s Fashion Week. Rosanne said that Madeline is excited to be invited back, with the overall purpose of diversifying beauty and helping people who feel isolated in society. ‘The first step to change is becoming aware and the second step is acceptance. I think 95 per cent of discrimination happens because people are not aware, they’re naïve. Just talking to people with a disability makes them feel included, equal and good about themselves.’
With over 112,000 followers on Instagram and 508,000 followers on Facebook, Madeline has been working hard to inspire change and support those who feel alone or excluded. Madeline plans to be in New York from 11 – 17 February, attending not only New York Fashion Week, but also FTL Moda’s clothing launch party, a Valentine’s Day event and a magazine photo shoot. Being the first model with Down syndrome to walk in a Fashion Week show twice, Rosanne said ‘She’s a professional model now. As a model she’s treated the same, she goes to dress rehearsals, make-up rehearsals … does eight hours a day and is paid like everyone else. I think that’s amazing.’
The next goal for Madeline is to walk in Milan and Tokyo Fashion Weeks next year. In the meantime, Madeline will travel to Uganda and South Africa to raise awareness of disability within the fashion industry, and will also hold a fundraiser with more than 2,000 people. ‘I’m so excited about that,’ Rosanne said. ‘We’re touching the lives of people that need it touched the most.’ New York Fashion Week will begin on 10th February with the Fall/Winter 2016 collections.