Madeline Stuart is taking the world by storm. You can catch her on the runway, starring in brand’s ads, and designing her own fashions. She just so happens to have been born with Down Syndrome. The style star has become a strong advocate for diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry – and beyond.
Richard Magazine previously spotlighted the 21-year-old model as an industry-changer whose name is worth remembering. We caught up with Madeline to get the latest on her ever-evolving modeling career, which includes debuting her own collection at New York Fashion Week, traveling the world, and picking up the Quincy Jones Award at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation gala. Catch our exclusive Q & A below.
Congratulations on your Quincy Jones Award: can you tell us what it was like being part of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation event?
It was truly amazing, The GDSF is such a groundbreaking organization, the work they are doing to change people with DS lives is unprecedented. It gives me hope of a long healthy life and to be a part of what they are doing is so humbling and so rewarding. I feel so honored to be working with them and to receive this amazing award.
What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given, and who was it from?
To be kind and to believe in myself. It was given by my mum of course as she is my biggest supporter.
Who are some of your inspirations that you look up to?
I love Lady Gaga, I am also in inspired by Karlie Kloss, the work she is doing to empower the young women of the world is truly inspirational.
What has it been like traveling all over the world for your modeling?
A dream come true, I love traveling and modeling more than anything. Actually, I have only been home from Switzerland for 7 days and would love to hit the road again, but I am on a break until next year. Over the past 2 and a half years traveling, I have met so many amazing people who have opened my eyes to how great the world really is, and how much we need to love and support each other.
Where has your favorite place to visit been so far?
I love New York of course, it is where my dreams are made, I also loved Uganda and Switzerland, but my heart belongs to New York.
How has your journey been since your debut at NYFW?
Very, very full, I have pretty much worked non-stop for the past 2 and a half years, I have had so much fun and done so many firsts. I am really proud of all my achievements, especially getting my working Visa for the United States. My attorney say he believes I am the only person with an intellectual disability to ever have achieved this in the USA.
Tell us about your collection at the Art Hearts Fashion Show 21 Reasons Why by Madeline Stuart.
My fashion label is changing, I am growing, at first I did ready-to-wear/activewear and my last collection was more club/party wear as I was turning 21. But I hope my next collection will be everyday wear that will appeal to more people.
Were you scared walking the runway show with a live snake over your shoulders?
OMG no, I loved Lucy, she was so beautiful. I miss her so much and can’t wait to get back to New York so I can see her again.
What kind of impact would you love to see stem from your modeling work?
I would love big companies to realize that one in 7 people have a disability and over 90% of the population is connected to disability on some level. It is time we became even more inclusive and realize that a disability is not a curse or a imperfection, it is just a difference, we are all different and we can all offer something positive to the world.
How do you feel about being an inspiration to differently-abled people?
I feel very proud that I can inspire people to achieve their dreams, if is such an amazing feeling to help others.
Who are some style influencers who you think are changing the industry right now?
I met a young woman at Art Hearts fashion in September, her name is Halima Aden and she is amazing. Look her up on Instagram @kinglimaa.
What was it like being the face of makeup brand Glossy Girl? Would you consider your own makeup line in the future?
It was great, I was the first person with DS in the United States to do this, so I was super proud. I would love to create my own makeup line one day. That would be a dream come true.
Where would you like your modeling career to take you next?
I hope this year to walk in new countries, hopefully Milan, Canada, and a few others. I also really hope that I can sign with a big modeling agency such as Wilhelmina, LA Models, or IMG. Give me a call guys!— Richard Editorial Staff