What Everyone at NYFW is (Still) Talking About
The fashion world was all abuzz last week when Madeline Stuart, a teenage model with Down syndrome, took to the runway during the 2015 New York Fashion Week. While these shows are the pinnacle for many models,
Stuart’s career actually started just a few months ago; one of her very first gigs was over the summer with the label EverMaya, an eco handbag line that was founded by Damian Graybelle ’98. “It was completely organic and unplanned,” he says. “Her story popped up in my newsfeed. She lost 40 pounds, despite having a heart condition, and wanted to become a model. So we reached out to her mom, who was her manager.” It was an easy decision for the company, which already had a socially conscious mission to “get people on even footing.”
Stuart was photographed this summer with EverMaya’s bright Guatemalan bags and, within weeks, those pictures—and her story—went viral. She’s since been covered in major news outlets from the NY Post to US Weekly, and all the while she and Graybelle remain close. (They got together last week for a fundraiser in Rochester, N.Y. to benefit those with special needs in the local community.)
In an interview with Today.com in July, Graybelle said: “The comment I’ve received more than anything is that this is long, long overdue. If that’s the case, then I wish we could have done it sooner. We’re a new brand, but we’re here, and we’re going to lead the charge. And it starts with Madeline.” In that spirit, Graybelle was excited to tell us that EverMaya recently created a bag called the “The Madeline” (pictured) and a portion of the sales goes towards the National Down Syndrome Society.
Amy Downey, senior editor