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
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.”