A model with Down syn­drome ful­fills her fash­ion week dream

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FEATURES - By Leanne Italie The As­so­ci­ated Press

Mar­ian Avila, a 21-year-old Span­ish model with Down syn­drome, ful­filled her dream to walk at New York Fash­ion Week thanks to an At­lanta de­signer she met through the magic of so­cial me­dia.

And she did it with flair Satur­day in the ball­room of a Mid­town ho­tel in evening looks of red and gold, her par­ents and sib­lings in the au­di­ence and other mod­els who have chal­lenges by her side.

“I felt re­ally happy and I re­ally loved the run­way,” Avila said through a trans­la­tor af­ter the Satur­day show. “I wanted to show the world that there are no bar­ri­ers.”

No bar­ri­ers for women of all kinds is Tal­isha White’s mis­sion, as a de­signer fo­cused on prom, pageant and spe­cial oc­ca­sion out­fits and as an ac­tive pageant con­tes­tant as well.

A model White knew had stum­bled on a story about Avila’s fash­ion week dream on­line. She told White of Avila’s quest and they reached out to Avila on Face­book.

“She’s been a busy su­per­model, meet­ing with all types of peo­ple,” White said of the at­ten­tion Avila and her dream have re­ceived in the United States, her home coun­try and across Europe. “I’m very glad for her. She’s been meet­ing with Vogue. She’s been meet­ing with Harper’s Bazaar. She’s been meet­ing in dif­fer­ent show­rooms, dif­fer­ent mod­el­ing agen­cies.”

Avila is from the Benidorm area, in the prov­ince of Ali­cante in eastern Spain on the Mediter­ranean coast. She was ac­com­pa­nied by her par­ents and sib­lings. At home, she said, “I prac­tice ev­ery day,” re­fer­ring to her love of mod­el­ing.

“I’m study­ing mod­el­ing and to be­come an ac­tress,” Avila said.

She walked the run­way with mod­els young and old, in­clud­ing one in a wheelchair, Tae McKen­zie of Char­lotte, North Carolina, and a young girl who also has Down syn­drome. White’s 43 looks were shown like a rain­bow with glim­mer­ing beaded em­bel­lish­ments on some in red, pink, gold, white, black and rose. Some pageant queens walked the run­way, too, with a few in the au­di­ence, their sashes and crowns in place.

White, 25, thought of a rain­bow to rep­re­sent “women’s em­pow­er­ment and beauty from the in­side out,” she said.

“I wanted to show not just one type of girl is beau­ti­ful. I like to show­case all types of girls, from pageant girls to mod­els in wheel­chairs, mod­els with Down syn­drome, mod­els who are 4 feet and told they can never be a model. They are my ‘it’ girl,” she ex­plained.

This isn’t White’s first time show­ing at fash­ion week. Her first show was in Septem­ber 2016, in a church.

“The pas­tor was mad be­cause we came early and church was still go­ing on and we were loud,” she laughed. “You have to start some­where.”

As for Avila, White “loves giv­ing girls op­por­tu­ni­ties to blos­som and ful­fill their dreams.” How will she do that? “The mis­sion of my busi­ness is to change the world one stitch at a time, but I know I’m not go­ing to do that just by mak­ing pretty dresses. It’s go­ing to be the women who wear those pretty dresses,” White said. “Peo­ple like Mar­ian Avila and Tae McKen­zie, who are break­ing bound­aries in the fash­ion in­dus­try.”

Model Mar­ian Avila wears an out­fit from the Tal­isha White 2019 spring col­lec­tion on the run­way dur­ing Fash­ion Week, Satur­day, Sept. 8, 2018, in New York.

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