Inspiration on the runway: More than 100 attend fashion show featuring visually impaired models


More than 100 people attended a vogue show Saturday showcasing all visually impaired models, an celebration hosted by a Hempstead design who is blind and who hopes to crush stigma bordering the incapacity.

Annalee Smith, 41, hosted her very first style show in Valley Stream with 16 products who are visually impaired. She structured the event, also.

“The truth that I can aid [by] acquiring this system, and I can support some others and encourage other people is superior for me. … I come to feel like at factors I have to pinch myself,” she instructed Newsday. 

Smith, who started modeling 5 several years in the past and received The Deal with of Kurvacious Model Competitors very last calendar year, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 12. The uncommon genetic situation deteriorated her peripheral vision.

She explained that growing up, there were being couple visually impaired position models in the general public sphere. And whilst the to start with New York style show starring all-blind models took the phase in 2016, visually impaired designs however do not have a big presence in vogue. 

So Smith began planning her very own clearly show in excess of a calendar year ago. She in the beginning planned for only a handful of products, but right after saying the occasion, she expanded the amount of individuals soon after achieving more visually impaired ladies than she envisioned. 

“I’m impressed even by my possess self,” she reported. 

The marketed-out occasion at VFW Publish 1790 benefited the Basis Combating Blindness, a nationwide nonprofit that operates to increase recognition and generate investigate for retinal diseases. Smith programs to hold a second clearly show in Oct through Blind Awareness Month. 

The women, on a makeshift runway, modeled outfits from multiple designers, this kind of as relaxed-don shop Legendary LLC, Kurvacious Boutique, and as well as-dimensions garments enterprise Ashley Stewart. 

The celebration was Rafia Lawal’s initial clearly show. Lawal, 37, of Brooklyn, was identified with cataracts as a young woman while residing in Ghana. Her family moved to the United States when she was 10 to achieve improved access to health care treatment to sluggish the progression of glaucoma. 

Lawal auditioned for a place on “America’s Next Prime Model” in the course of the show’s early seasons but wasn’t selected. She blames it on her prior deficiency of self-assurance and insecurity because of to her impairment. 

Jenning Ballesteros, 23, walks the runway at VFW Post 1790 in...

Jenning Ballesteros, 23, walks the runway at VFW Write-up 1790 in Valley Stream on Saturday.
Credit rating: Brittainy Newman

“Instead of looking at the digital camera, I was variety of closing my eyes,” she mentioned. “I was seeking to protect against them from looking at I in fact had a incapacity.” 

Now filled with self-assurance, she said she seen the function as a probability to shatter the belief that blind or visually impaired gals don’t treatment about style. 

The present also was the initial modeling celebration for quite a few of the females, which include Colette Stroude, 33, of Brooklyn.

Stroude, who was born blind due to a hereditary eye disorder, modeled together with her 15-calendar year-outdated daughter Heaven Stroude, who also is blind. 

“This is so individual to me and my relatives,” Stroude mentioned.

She stated she was drawn to product in the demonstrate for the reason that blindness and visible impairment are usually forgotten when men and women believe about disabilities.

“I was really keen to be in a position to be aspect of this platform. … Remaining surrounded by other men and women who have the very same issue as you do, it helps make a larger effect,” Stroude claimed.


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