A True Role ‘Model’

Fashion week is officially upon New York City, and while this usually means dozens of runway shows featuring looks from the industry’s top designers, one designer, is making her unique models the star of her New York Fashion Week appearance.

According to the New York Daily News, designer Carrie Hammer is putting on her fourth “Role Models Not Runway Models” show at Fashion Week; as its name indicates, the show doesn’t use traditional runway models to showcase her designs. Instead, Hammer features ” female CEOs, an Olympian, activists and entrepreneurs in order to change the face — and figure — of beauty,” says the Daily News. 

Explaining her decision to use nontraditional models, Hammer said, “We always want to make sure that every woman sees herself reflected and represented on the runway.”

After searching for models for her first runway show two years ago for her “office couture line,” Hammer realized that the industry’s standard models didn’t align with her brand’s “power-woman image.” So the Daily News says she reached out to clients and others in her network and ended up enlisting the help of Danielle Sheypuk, a psychologist. In modeling Hammer’s designs in February 2014, Sheypuk became the first model in a wheelchair on the runway of a New York Fashion Week.

Hammer received many emails thanking her for featuring Sheypuk in her fashion show, including one from Kate Driscoll, who according to the Daily News is a mom of six and the founder of Changing the Face of Beauty, an organization that “encourages the media to fairly represent people with disabilities.” Driscoll requested that Hammer feature a model with Down syndrome in her next show, and Hammer heeded her request by asking Jamie Brewer of “American Horror Story” fame to model for her line last February.

This Fashion Week will be no different, with Hammer set to feature a list of accomplished and inspiring women in her show. The Daily News says that those modeling Hammer’s spring/summer 2016 styles include “Olympic figure-skating gold medalist and “Dancing with the Stars” champ Meryl Davis; TED executive producer June Cohen; comic Maysoon Zayid (top), who has cerebral palsy; UN communications adviser LaNeice Collins; and city International Affairs Commissioner Penny Abeywardena (above), who’s coordinating the Pope’s visit this month.”

Hammer, who’s been named to Forbes’ “3o Under 30” list, explained the goal of her nontraditional models in this way: “We want to make sure we’re casting not only diversity of looks and age and ability, but to also provide a lot of different careers and things you can do as a woman. So if she can see it, she can be it.”

Thank you, Carrie Hammer, for teaching us that we can rise to be whatever we desire to be, and that powerful, inspiring women are beautiful women.

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