Brisbane-born model Madeline Stuart, who has Down syndrome, has launched her own fashion label at New York Fashion Week.
A regular on the catwalk since 2015, Madeline is part of a new generation changing perceptions about people with Down syndrome, and she hopes to do the same with her new label, 21 Reasons Why.
The collection’s name is a nod to Stuart turning 21 this year and the extra copy of chromosome 21 that is characteristic of Down syndrome.
Wearing blue patterned leggings, the model-come-designer kicked off the show on the Art Hearts Fashion runway, where she was joined by several other international designers who were showcasing their new collections.
As her show came to an end, she held hands with two models and waved enthusiastically at the audience, clearly overwhelmed at the support for her line.
“So proud to have launched my clothing label tonight @artheartsfashion #21ReasonsWhy.com ,” Madeline writes on her Instagram account to her 131,000 followers.
“It really does represent who she is,” says Roseanne Stuart, Madeline’s mother, manager and design collaborator about the label that will be sold exclusively online.
The stunning collection, described as “mirroring her own daily style”, is a contemporary take on trendy day-wear with short flared skirts, crop tops and an array of t-shirts.
Speaking with Fairfax Media in 2015, Roseanne said her inspiring daughter had struggled with her weight most of her life but went on a healthy eating kick and lost almost 20 kilograms.
After walking in two other shows in New York, Madeline is heading to Paris and then Los Angeles and other US cities before returning home to Australia in late April.
“She’s worked hard for it. People with Down syndrome can do anything,” adds a proud Roseanne.
“I think it is time people realised that people with Down syndrome can be sexy and beautiful.”