Last Friday night, more than 200 people gathered for a Times Square fashion show in New York City. It wasn't in a fashion house or theater. Instead, the models walked in a unique venue: a Church. The special venue was only fitting: the models have special needs, and they modeled adaptive clothing brands and styles, raising money for charities that help children with disabilities.
"Organizing a fashion show for those with special needs reminds us that true beauty lies in our dignity as unique children of God" said Sean O'Hare, fashion show organizer, in a statement.
The show was held at St. Malachy’s Church on the West Side of Manhattan, and all proceeds from the show went to benefit the Special Needs Activity Center for Kids and Adults. Models, who have a variety of special needs, modeled outfits from dress designer Jovani, fashion brand Thursday Boots, and adaptive clothing brand Independence Day Clothing.
Because some of the models have sensitivities to loud music, shouting, or clapping, the show chose a novel soundtrack for its show: a live choir. The St. Joseph’s Choir, a Catholic choir based at the university parish at New York University, sang pop and praise songs as the models walked.
Along with O’Hare, former Miss America 2008 and Fox News Contributor Kirsten Haglund co-hosted the event.
Any fashion show, one of the most important elements, besides the clothes themselves, is the audience reception. At St. Malachy’s the models were met with overwhelmingly positive reviews.
"What a terrific night!” said Tracy Nixon, a mother and founder of a non-profit for those with Down syndrome, Gigi's Playhouse NYC. “My daughter and everyone from GiGi’s Playhouse NYC had the best time tonight!"
The positive reception of the show has even inspired organizer O’Hare to plan other fashion shows like this around the country under the name, “100 Million Strong.”
"According to the UN there are approximately 100 million severely disabled individuals around the world,” O’Hare explained. “We want to demonstrate that this a large community, but one with strength, fortitude and joy!"
He hopes these shows can help to raise money for local special needs charities, encourage other designers to consider adaptive clothing solutions for people with unique physical needs, and celebrate the special needs community around the nation.