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Runway of Dreams debuts Victoria's Secret adaptive; Rise runway empowers sexual assault survivors

By Jackie Mallon


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Oliver Scheier and Mindy Scheier greet the audience from the runway during Runway of Dreams Credits: Getty

Two shows that occurred during New York Fashion Week prioritized life-changing movements over seasonal trends, demonstrating the unique sense of empowerment that fashion can provide. Both events were conceived by women who identified an opportunity within the fashion space to make positive impact on people's lives. How we put ourselves together to make an impression in our daily lives cannot be overlooked. The clothes we wear gain us approval, acceptance, self-confidence and praise. But our attire can also bring judgement. 
The Rise 2023 NYFW Survivor Fashion Show entitled “What were you wearing?" spoke to the latter. Victims of sexual assault, who historically have had this question weaponized against them, took to the runway in luxury looks selected from major international designers such as Veronica Beard, Peter Do, Prabal Garung, Chloé, Saks Fifth Avenue among others.

(L) Performers J Chen Project and (R) Amanda Nguyen Credits: Getty
“This show represents our continued fight for survivor rights everywhere, so that no matter their geography, survivors have access to justice systems that protect them and not their rapists,” said Rise founder and CEO Amanda Nguyen who is as likely to be seen on Capitol Hill as on a catwalk. “We are launching a multilateral treaty campaign for universal jurisdiction over sex crimes because ending impunity and protecting sexual assault survivors is the shared responsibility of the international community. It’s time we expand access to justice for all survivors.”
Sexual assault survivors on the Rise runway Credits: Getty

Rise has passed 60+ laws for more than 100 million survivors and counting. In addition to working to pass the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights in all 50 states, Rise is committed to the passage of a UN resolution securing access to justice for survivors, something which should not depend on geography. Last year, Rise helped pass the first ever standalone United Nations resolution protecting survivors of sexual assault – a historic milestone providing access to justice for 1.3 billion survivors.

Sexual assault survivors on the Rise runway Credits: Getty

The fashion show followed performances of dance, song and poetry. Nguyen herself closed the show wearing a three-piece look from Brunello Cucinelli, a brand that Rise recognizes as having been historically supportive of the organization's work. Nguyen's outfit struck a fun and elegant note while other survivors selected everything from the most glamorous gowns to printed day dresses and sharp colorful tailoring. In its third year, held at Forbes on Fifth in lower Manhattan, Rise, which describes itself as a “civil rights accelerator that empowers everyday citizens to pen their own rights into existence,” continues its effort on behalf of survivors to reclaim the phrase: “what were you wearing?”

(L) Wildine Aumoithe and (R) Alexis Bader model on the runway during Runway of Dreams Credits: Getty

Runway of Dreams calls for A Fashion Revolution with adaptive runway and exhibit

The Runway of Dreams show staged at Brooklyn Powerhouse Arts and entitled, "A Fashion Revolution," featured adaptive and universally designed looks from Zappos, Kohl's, Target, Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive, Steve Madden, French Toast Adaptive, and adidas, among others. It also showcased the runway debut of Victoria's Secret and Pink's first-ever Adaptive Intimates range. The runway accommodated a cast of 70 models with varying disabilities and backgrounds, in addition to loved ones and caregivers.

Mindy Scheier, founder of Runway of Dreams was the show’s host, accompanied by Shaquem Griffin, former NFL linebacker who was dressed in looks provided by Neiman Marcus and Tommy Hilfiger. Other notable attendees included Victoria’s Secret model, Mayowa Nicholas; Lydia Smith, Chief Diversity Officer, Victoria's Secret & Co; Scott Schaefer, Zappos CEO; Dana Zumbo, Zappos Adaptive Business Development Manager; Billy Price, founder BILLY Footwear; Logan Alridge; and Aaron Rose Philip.

Victoria's Secret debuts adaptive range of intimates on Runway of Dreams

"The Runway of Dreams stage is where brands have chosen to celebrate the debut of their adaptive designs over the years, and I am thrilled and so honored to welcome Victoria's Secret and Pink Adaptive to the adaptive family. Knowing the Victoria's Secret and Pink Adaptive products were developed with and for people with disabilities proves their commitment to true inclusion, and understanding the work that needs to go into making these products authentically," said Scheier.

Kanya Sesser models on the runway during Runway of Dreams Credits: Getty

"We are excited to debut our first-ever Adaptive collection during New York Fashion Week on the Runway of Dreams' runway," said Lydia Smith, Chief Diversity Officer, Victoria's Secret & Co. "We are honored to join the many brands who have decided to debut their Adaptive apparel on this runway adding to the historic timeline that is the future of fashion."

The Runway of Dreams Foundation, founded in 2014, is a public charity focused on empowering people with disabilities to have confidence and self-expression through inclusion in fashion and beauty. It advocates for innovation within adaptive design and raises awareness through large scale runway shows; campaigns for inclusion; educational programs that inspire and develop the next generation of design innovators and marketing leaders; and thought provoking panels.

(L) Jillian Curwin and (R) Tiffany Geigel model on the runway during Runway of Dreams Credits: Getty
Runway of Dreams also organized an open to the public and free, first-of-its-kind exhibit featuring adaptive and universally designed collections from mainstream brands committed to inclusion in the fashion and beauty industries. It was held in Hudson Yards running across three days during NYFW, to emphasize the need for true inclusion in our mainstream world.
Adaptive fashion
Runway of Dreams
sexual assault