At New York Fashion Week, a New Kind of Runway Model Makes History

Jamie Brewer, an actor with Down syndrome, made her debut at the Carrie Hammer show.

Jamie Brewer during the Carrie Hammer fashion show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on Feb. 12. (Photo: Brian Ach/Getty Images)

Feb 12, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

It’s been a historic year for women in fashion. Tess Holliday became the largest plus-size model to land a major modeling contract; Sports Illustrated featured Robyn Lawley and Ashley Graham, the first plus-size models to appear in an editorial photo spread and a print advertisement in the magazine, respectively; and now, New York Fashion Week has seen its first model with Down syndrome, Jamie Brewer, walk the runway.

Brewer, a 30-year-old actor who appears in American Horror Story, was chosen to model as part of designer Carrie Hammer’s “Role Models Not Runway Models” campaign. Launched at New York Fashion Week last year, the campaign employs the real women who actually wear Hammer’s career-oriented clothing. Past models have included psychologist Danielle Sheypuk, who uses a wheelchair, and quadruple amputee Karen Crespo.

(Photo: Brian Ach/Getty Images)

According to Today, the fashion designer was inspired to include Brewer in this year’s show at the urging of Katie Driscoll, a parent whose daughter was born with Down syndrome. Driscoll cofounded the nonprofit Changing the Face of Beauty, which advocates for people with disabilities, and suggested that Brewer would be a good role model, especially given the exposure of the New York Fashion Week runway.

In addition to Brewer, Hammer models at Thursday’s show included Malala Fund cofounder Shiza Shahid, Black Girls Code cofounder Kimberly Bryant, and World Bank sector manager Maria Correia.

“I call it the runway revolution,” Hammer told Mashable. “Women can see these women in high positions and also see that they’re beautiful and feminine and incredible.... I hope young women see this and say, ‘I want to do that. I can do that.’ ”