A local 4-year-old was recently in the spotlight at New York Fashion Week, where she took to the runway to model adaptive fashions.
Estelle Lemieux appeared as one of 60 models in “The Runway of Dreams,” which is a one-of-a-kind adaptive fashion show aptly titled “A Revolution in Fashion” presented by Kohl’s. The seventh annual show was held on September 12 at The Glasshouse in New York City.
“It was such a fascinating experience for him. She has never been exposed to so many people with all different types of disabilities/differences. I definitely think it has helped her understand and accept her disability/wheelchair,” said Amy Lemieux, Estelle’s mother.
Estelle, the daughter of Amy and Douglas Lemieux, has spinal muscular atrophy, type 2. She started showing symptoms around 6 months old, but wasn’t diagnosed until 16 months old, as it took too long to get the correct one. diagnosis.
Lemieux said her daughter has been fortunate to receive all three FDA-approved treatments for the neuromuscular condition, including the world’s most expensive drug called Zolgensma at a cost of $2.1 million for one course of treatment. She also takes daily medication and receives therapy to help build muscle and fight a disease that is historically progressive without treatment.
“This short getaway to New York was a great distraction for her to just be a kid for a few days and take a break from her therapies. We got to explore the city and walk to Time Square. Estelle loved the hustle and bustle and the bright lights. We went to the M&M store, the American Girl doll store, Disney and also Harry Potter. She had a blast,” her mother said.
The Runway of Dreams Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission of inclusion, acceptance and opportunity in the fashion industry for people with disabilities. The evening featured adaptive apparel and footwear from top brands such as Kohl’s, Target, Zappos.com, JCPenney, Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive, No Limbits and Stride Rite. Steve Madden debuted his line of adaptive footwear, along with brands French Toast Adaptive, Stemwear and Magnetic Me, who showcased products from their new adaptive collections.
Estelle flipped on the runway three times and started tearing up when she realized the show was over. Since returning from their trip, Lemieux said her daughter has brought up different role models she’s met and says, “This is the way their body is made and it’s okay to be different.”
Lemieux likes that Estelle is curious about other people.
“She’s seeing that God makes us all unique. This is what is so important and necessary to what Runway of Dreams is doing. Society needs more exposure. People with disabilities deserve to be seen in all spaces, including fashion and advertising. It’s time to normalize disabilities,” she said.
Lemieux tells her daughter that the world would be a boring place if everyone looked the same, and she said Estelle is starting to see that, too.
“She even says it herself now. She can do anything she wants in life,” Lemieux said. “We just have to do some things a little bit differently and that’s fine. She has such a positive and bright spirit for such a young girl. We are very proud of him.”
Estelle started her modeling career about a year ago. She is signed to Model Club in Boston and GAMUT Management in New York, which is a talent management company that works with people with disabilities.
The fashion show wasn’t Estelle’s first modeling experience – she’s done shoots for Hasbro toys and featured in a children’s book called Gary’s Giant Dream by Nicole Julia.
Follow her on her Facebook page Estelles SMAmazing travel or on Instagram @RaisingaRaregirl.