Paralympians ruled the runway at Tokyo Fashion Week

Tokyo Fashion Week and it’s as delightfully outlandish, creative and interesting as you would expect to be. Indeed while we’re all for ‘wearability’ sometimes it’s just fun to see a woman sashay down the catwalk with teddy bears in her hair, you know?

Hair kittens!

Hair teddy bears!

However the best thing about Tokyo Fashion Week so far is not the bat wing shoes or the ensemble made entirely of pillows (hats off to you, Christian Dada), but the Tenba collection by Takafumi Tsuruta. The Japanese designer sent models in wheelchairs and prosthetic legs down the runway to model his clothes, including Paralympic athletes including snowboarder Mika Abe (middle), and gold medal swimmer Rina Akiyama.

A model on wheelchair presents a creation by designer Tsuruta from his Autumn/Winter 2015/2016 collection for his brand tenbo during Tokyo

Tsuruta’s use of models with disabilities is not a token effort, he has long designed clothes for people with disabilities, as well as genderless. He does this in a practical way, such as coats with magnetic buttons, making them more accessible and he also designed a wedding dress for a bride in a wheelchair. Which is a real, practical and truly empowering step forward when it comes to inclusiveness in the notoriously restrictive fashion industry.

The visibility of people that don’t fit the ‘norm’ are incredibly important, especially in the fashion industry.

A visually impaired model (front), walks with a cane at Tenbo.

A visually impaired model (front), walks with a cane at Tenbo.

Earlier this year first model with Down Syndrome to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week, American Horror actress Jamie Brewer, made her debut at the Carrie Hammer show – another designer who not only uses models from all kinds of backgrounds, but designs with them in mind too.

The previous year Hammer used Dr. Danielle Sheypuk, who uses a wheelchair, in her show. The overwhelmingly positive reaction was gratifying to the designer. However she says she never set out to make a point.

Jamie Brewer on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week.

Jamie Brewer on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week.

We were never trying to make a statement,” Hammer told Time magazine.

“We don’t think of [Sheypuk] as being in a wheelchair. We don’t define her that way … but it went really viral. We got hundreds of emails for girls and their moms thanking us.”

More please.

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Dior and I

Frederic Tcheng’s film, Dior and I, provides a rare behind the scenes insight into the world of haute couture.

It also documents an extraordinary piece of fashion history – the creation of the first ever Christian Dior haute couture collection by Raf Simons following his appointment as the House’s creative director. It also happens to be Simons first time doing haute couture. And not only that but he and the dedicated team at Christian Dior have just eight weeks to create it, as opposed to the usual five or six months. The pressure is on! Especially as everything is made by hand.

Tcheng follows Simons, his right hand at Dior, Pieter Mulier and the in-house ateliers as they ultimately create a collection that is so incredibly beautiful as it is modern that it is hailed as a triumph, moving Simons to tears.

Dior is one of the last houses that still keep ateliers in-house: atelier tailleur (for suiting) and atelier flou (for dresses). Many of the steamstresses have worked here for more than 40 years. Christian Dior only helmed his house for ten years before his death in 1957 aged 52.

The film also includes the voice of Christian Dior himself, and the parallels between Dior and Simons thinking and approach are uncanny.

A must see, Dior and I, is in New Zealand cinemas from April 2.

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