STYLE

Disabled Models Hit The Runway At New York Fashion Week

02/18/2015 11:00 EST | Updated 02/18/2015 11:00 EST
Kommersant Photo via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: A models walk the runway at the FTL Moda fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2015 at The Salon at Lincoln Center on February 15, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images)

While the fashion industry struggles with diversity on its runways, FTL Moda is completely embracing it.

Following the inclusion of Jamie Brewer, an actress with Down syndrome who walked in Carrie Hammer's fashion show at New York Fashion Week, the Italian label decided to diversify the runway by featuring models with disabilities in its fall/winter 2015 show on Sunday, Feb. 15.

In the moving showcase, amputees, wheelchair-bound beauties, and people on crutches fiercely stormed the catwalk alongside able-bodied models wearing futuristic designs by Antonio Urzi, whose celeb clientele includes Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Britney Spears. The show, called "FTL Moda Loving You," was held in partnership with Fondazione Vertical, an Italian research foundation for spinal cord injuries, and Models of Diversity, a six-year-old agency devoted to change the face of fashion and modelling.

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"It is a very significant moment in my fashion career," show producer Ilaria Niccolini told Ticker Report. "This opportunity to finally open the most recognized runways in the world to these beautiful talents, ready to show that disability is very often just a mental state by performing on the runway next to some of the best models on the scene."

The show also featured the first male model amputee to ever walk the NYFW runway, Jack Eyers. The 25-year-old Brit, who was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency—a condition which affected the growth of his right leg—chose to have that leg amputated at at age 16, due to discomfort. He was hand-picked by Urzi to walk in the show.

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"It all feels so surreal -- I can't believe this is actually happening," Eyers told Caters News in a press release. "To be the first male amputee model on a New York Fashion Week runway feels amazing - it feels like such a big deal. I just want to show that having a disability doesn't need to hold you back. I want people to see me, and to realize that there needs to be more disabled models walking the runway."

Last year Nordstrom featured disabled models in its summer 2014 catalogue, including wheelchair-bound Jillian Mercado, who starred in Diesel's spring 2014 campaign.

The inclusion of disabled models in the industry are refreshing; after all, it's not only racial diversity the fashion world lacks—people with disabilities are severely underrepresented. Here's hoping others in the fashion world will follow suit and promote diversity and representation of people from different walks of life, including those with disabilities.

Check out more photos from FTL Moda's show below:

FTL Moda AW15

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