A DOUBLE amputee and a former body builder with a muscle wasting disease are not the conventional models seen gracing the catwalks of fashion shows.
But in a first for Northern Ireland, people who “showcase the diversity we see in society” are taking to the runway for an Alternative Fashion Week.
Older, mobility-impaired and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender models will be among those showcasing latest fashions at four events across Belfast.
Co Down photographer and Equal Fashion Magazine founder Shelley Rodgers has a passion for bringing alternative looks and styles to the fore.
The first of her four unique shows, entitled ‘Fairytale and Gore’, was held at the Elmwood Hall last night.
She said while they are rooted firmly in Belfast, the events have an international flavour with fashion designers, models, photographers, make-up artists and musicians from London, Amsterdam, America and throughout Europe.
“What I really wanted to do was challenge and show something different out there and that there’s really a way of catering for everyone,” she said.
“It’s really showing an alternative and a bit of a change from the norm. As well as showing off clothes and designers, it’s showcasing the body.
“We have fully tattooed models, older models, a double amputee who had both legs amputated due to illness and she will be the first amputee to walk on any catwalk across Europe.
“Belfast is usually behind things, but we’re jumping ahead here with this Alternative Fashion Week.”
Among those modelling is Heather McLean from Bangor, a former professional body builder who has suffered from a muscle-wasting disease which saw her lose her voice for two years.
With a shaved head, tattoos and body piercings, she is not the usual type of model photographed on catwalks.
Double amputee Stacy Paris, who lost both legs below the knee to a flesh eating bug, is also gracing the runway.
Ms Rodgers said the Belfast Alternative Fashion Week would see “an exciting collection of unique and visually spectacular creative catwalk shows”.
“In Northern Ireland I feel there’s a misconception that in order to exist in the fashion industry you have to conform to a particular look, be a certain size or fall within a designated age range,” she said.
“Almost by accident we seem to conform to one small idea of what the fashion and beauty industry wants or entails and that’s just not true.
“You only have to walk down the street to see the creativity of our fashion industry and see how style and trend is translated by everyone you meet.”
[Source:-The Irish Times]