Fash­ion just got REAL

Are mod­els on the ramp get­ting passé? Max Fash­ion got peo­ple of all shapes, sizes, eth­nic­i­ties and ages to show­case their new spring col­lec­tion — and the re­sult was fab­u­lous

WKND - - On The Ramp Celebrating Individuality - By Janice Ro­drigues

Too of­ten, we tend to fo­cus on our flaws. We’re too plump, skinny, young, old or clumsy to do any­thing as glam­orous as walk the ramp for a ma­jor fash­ion la­bel. And that’s cer­tainly what a lot of peo­ple thought be­fore they au­di­tioned for Max Fash­ion’s open cast­ing call last month. “We heard sto­ries from peo­ple who have al­ways dreamt of be­com­ing mod­els but thought they were too old,” says Tanya Todd, newly ap­pointed Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Max, dur­ing a pri­vate in­ter­view. “And then we had peo­ple as young as 13 tell us about how passionate they were about de­sign and how they wanted to un­der­stand the world of fash­ion. It was over­whelm­ing, to hear so many in­spi­ra­tional sto­ries.”

Th­ese in­spi­ra­tional sto­ries in­flu­enced the de­ci­sion- mak­ing process that got 49 res­i­dents from all over the UAE se­lected to take part in Max’s ‘ Fash­ion for Real Peo­ple’ cam­paign. Th­ese res­i­dents came from all walks of life, united by their shared pas­sion for fash­ion and their de­sire to try some­thing new, and for Todd, choos­ing only 49 was the hard­est part of the ex­ten­sive cam­paign.

“No two in­di­vid­u­als are the same,” she says. “Every­one has their own per­son­al­i­ties and per­sonal style, and this cam­paign is all about cel­e­brat­ing that. As a brand, we wanted to make fash­ion ac­ces­si­ble to every­one, and the next step was hav­ing real peo­ple on the ramp. We wanted to cel­e­brate in­di­vid­u­al­ity.”

Now, real peo­ple on the cat­walk is not a new idea — Dubai- based de­signer Dima Ayad had women of all shapes and sizes on the run­way dur­ing Fash­ion For­ward Dubai last year. Mean­while, Fash­ion for All, a fash­ion show for real peo­ple or­gan­ised by net­work­ing group Wo­man2­woman is also gain­ing trac­tion in the UAE. So, what ex­actly is the al­lure of real peo­ple on the ramp? How much do they dif­fer from mod­els?

“Well, mod­els are trained to act a cer­tain way, strike a cer­tain pose,” says Todd thought­fully. FASH­ION FOR ALL: UAE res­i­dents walk the ramp at Max's lat­est fash­ion show “But real peo­ple aren’t. They are more nat­u­ral and spon­ta­neous and, we, at Max Fash­ion, wants to en­cour­age that. It all comes back to cel­e­brat­ing in­di­vid­u­als in ev­ery­day life. Af­ter all, real life isn’t per­fect! Kids walk around with ice cream on their noses and women some­times can’t han­dle heels. The spon­tane­ity is part of the fun and that’s what we are cel­e­brat­ing.”

The process was un­doubt­edly fun for all. The 49 cho­sen worked with a chore­og­ra­pher to per­fect their walk, and got to choose be­tween a se­lec­tion of out­fits to de­cide how they wanted to put to­gether their look. There was even a Zumba fit­ness ses­sion held the day be­fore the event, to help them let loose and have fun.

“It was a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Ar­men Kostayan, who hails from Ar­me­nia, and walked the ramp with his wife Meri, who is six months preg­nant. “Meri was the one who ac­tu­ally wanted to do it, but when I went with her to the au­di­tion, the man­age­ment asked me to join in!”

Was it dif­fi­cult with all the train­ing ses­sions, see­ing as how Meri is preg­nant? “Not at all,” laughs Ar­men. “She’s a very con­fi­dent woman and now we are both jok­ing about how our child has al­ready got­ten to be on the cat­walk — be­fore be­ing born!”

In­dian- ori­gin Jy­oti Dave had a dif­fer­ent rea­son for want­ing to par­tic­i­pate — to give her 13- year- old daugh­ter Muskan fun mem­o­ries, while also in­still­ing a sense of self- con­fi­dence. “I saw this com­pe­ti­tion on­line and thought it would be great ex­po­sure for Muskan, since fash­ion is some­thing she is in­ter­ested in. And since it’s also a great bond­ing op­por­tu­nity, I de­cided to take part too.”

How did it feel to see her daugh­ter tak­ing to the ramp? “I was so proud,” says Jy­oti. “I thought she did a won­der­ful job. I al­ways knew she had it in her — it was just a mat­ter of find­ing the right plat­form.”

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