A purposeful fashion show, Modelle & Rotelle:
Final Thoughts on my participation in Modelle & Rotelle 2012:
As I reflect on my participation in Modelle Rotelle, being selected as one of the models, the only one from the U.S. and, very importantly building lasting friendships after my collaboration with Vertical Foundation and Modelle & Rotelle I am absolutely grateful. I had such a great opportunity to step outside of my bubble. I’ve always liked traveling. I had visited Rome before my accident. When I went to Europe at the age of 19, I visited 7 European countries, but the first country I hoped to visit again was Italy. Combining my love for traveling, gathering new experiences along with my passion to model, host and meet interesting people was a true fortune. That fortune was this event Modelle & Rotelle (models and wheels).
Let me start by sharing some things you might wonder about:
Why and How did I get involved with Modelle & Rotelle?
Why: I modeled before I was injured at the age of 19 and the very first thing I went back to was modeling, one of my biggest passions. I didn’t incorporate my wheelchair in the first shoot, and subconsciously I did it because I hadn’t fully embraced my new life and I did not want my wheelchair to “define me” or my passions. My first photo shoot was only a few months after my injury so it was understandable I hadn’t fully accepted the wheelchair; but shortly after that first photo session, I realized I wasn’t just “not incorporating my chair,” but more importantly, I wasn’t fully accepting myself. The wheelchair couldn’t define me, so long as I didn’t let it define me; but it was part of me now. That was just the reality. I was then determined to be proud of everything that was part of me, including my chair. I incorporated my wheelchair in my second photo shoot, and from then on, I only became prouder of it, creating more memories that included the chair; but at the same time, without defining what I could do; further than just accepting my wheelchair, I embraced it all! Since then I have been dedicated to advocating for women and models who happen to have a disability but are just as beautiful. Hence my passion for modeling and always being part of the movement that takes women who are interested in modeling to the next level.
How: A fellow para and a beautiful woman in a wheelchair shared with me a short clip of Modelle & Rotelle. I immediately became very interested in it seeing that it’s a one-of-a-kind event in many ways with a purpose and a message, and here below are some of the reasons that make this event one of its own kind:
1. The models are sitting models in wheelchairs AND standing models promoting women of “all walks of life,” but all beautiful women and equally capable to accomplish everything, including modeling beautiful haute couture gowns down the runway.
2. It’s a high fashion show with several haute couture designers showcasing their clothing lines at this event, modeled down the runway by all models, sitting and standing models.
3. Big name designers and world-renowned companies support this event that impacts Rome, all Italy and, ultimately, Europe, sharing the great message of inclusion and beauty in all and in fashion, bringing awareness about spinal cord injuries to everyone, as well as funding for spinal cord injury research.
I emailed the foundation in charge of putting this event together, Fondazione Vertical, and shared several of my modeling shots and a few of my previous modeling videos in which I share what modeling means to me. I received a very warm response from the Founder and President of Vertical Foundation and Modelle & Rotelle, Fabrizio Bartocccioni.
He shared with me the casting dates and highly encouraged me to enter the casting. I had nothing to loose entering the casting… As open-minded as I try to be, I said, “why not?” This is what I believe in so… I went for it!
I truly did not want to get ahead of myself; but I knew going to this event, if selected, would be an amazing opportunity because it would make one of my biggest dreams come true, which was to go back to Italy, the country I fell in love with just a few months before my accident. Of course this dream was aside from modeling down the catwalk in Europe… ☺
Well I was officially selected as one of the 20 sitting models and 40 models total, selected within beautiful women from all over the world.
Fabrizio and I had numerous conversations about the event, his ambitious plans for the second edition, sponsors, etc, and we built a friendship, firstly, and a working relationship as we agreed on me hosting the event, for the first time, by doing a video that would document the event with exclusive backstage interviews and all of this would be so more people could understand what this event is all about and ensure many people around the world could see this as well, at east online, be part of the movement and hear the important message.
There’s nothing we cannot do… See for your own eyes:
It was an unforgettable experience. Being a model and a host for this magnificent event, at the same time, would not be easy. Not many people spoke English fluently and some were also camera shy, so I had a lot to work with here.
It was a challenge, but one I was ready to take on. It was my job as a host to facilitate those interviews and make it as comfortable as possible for people, even when there was a language barrier. Aside from the language difficulties, I faced other challenges:
I was basically ON the whole time. When I was not modeling, getting fitted, practicing down the runway, doing interviews for other media and networks, I was interviewing people for my own video and documenting it all, so it was truly a non-stop event for me and long days but all truly worth it!
I interviewed very interesting people, models, artists, designers, and others, check it out!
I know how much work this was; still, I would redo this experience in the same way all over again. I combined everything I love to do, communicating, hosting, modeling; not just model, but model haute couture designs down the catwalk in an integrative event, and I did it all!
This unique experience will be ever lasting and memorable! Sincere relationships and forever friendships were made, all including advocating for the disabled community I proudly represent and women, specially, which is something I highly believe in, helping in any way that I can advance the communities I belong to and empower each other. All of us involved in this event, from models to designers, all the staff in front AND behind the scenes and all volunteers were left in awe by the total success of this event that was only on its second edition and with a very promising future.
Check out what an experience this was for everyone involved:
This will continue to go on and the execution will continue to be impeccable as it grows because I know the quality work and passion everyone puts into it. I personally feel as a winner by simply being selected as one of the 40 models; the first one to proudly represent the U.S. AND also Latin America, as I was born and raised in Mexico. I was the first Latina to participate, which I’m very proud of.
Having the opportunity to host and spread this event and message is one of the greatest things because fashion is for all. I liked fashion before my accident, ever since I was little, and I still do. I had modeled before my accident, loved it, and I still do. However, now it has a different meaning for me and I see it as a powerful vehicle to spread messages, break stereotypes and bring awareness. People, let’s integrate; there’s no need to divide the disability community from society at large, including in the fashion world and modeling industry. That’s why I take my hat off and my utmost respect for Fabrizio Bartoccioni for creating this event, the first one of its own. There’s been fashion shows with women in wheelchairs done before all over, which is great; but Fabrizio and Vertical Foundation took a stance and united the world from high fashion and professional standing models with models in wheelchairs!
I always told myself that “yes, my life had changed drastically and forever, but simply because I was now paralyzed, that did not mean I couldn’t have a better life.” I have continued to believe this as time goes on, and I have accomplished so much, so much that before my accident I hadn’t even thought of; but now, I not only think of this, but I believe this wholeheartedly and I hope you do too!
Modelle & Rotelle is an example of a group of visionaries coming together that believe in bigger and greater things for all, making things happen and conquering it all. This is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of a forceful movement that has been pushed by several people all over the world for years, but it’s now picking up its force, and now we’re finally seeing concrete projects.
Modelle & Rotelle has a great future and the third edition this 2013 coming up will bring even better things! I can’t wait…
*IMPORTANT: The casting is currently going on so please visit www.modellerotelle.it and I highly encourage you to enter it. Give it a shot! Give yourself a great opportunity. Believe in bigger and greater things. You never know what might happen. Good luck! And if you know someone interested in this, please share this blog post if it might be helpful for them in any way.*
*You don’t have to have professional photos to enter the casting.
*You don’t have to be a professional model or runway model. They’ll see your modeling potential, and they’ll tell you what to do there.
*Gown fittings are normally done the day before the event.
*The event is usually in December.
*The casting is still open.
*You don’t have to speak Italian. Several people speak English.
*It IS an international event.
*It’s a runway show, not a beauty pageant, so no speeches or platforms are part of the format.
*A lot of media from Italy, Europe, and other countries are present, as it is a big size event with hundreds of people attending.
*This is put on by Vertical Foundation and the main purpose is to fundraise for spinal cord injury research, BUT just alongside a main purpose is to educate society and break stereotypes.
-Visit Modelle & Rotelle’s website or find them on Facebook for more questions.
This is more than an initiative. Let’s all continue to push this movement and be part of it in any way that we can. I will continue to do my thing, model, host and communicate, as I’m dedicated to seeing more changes happen. I hope you’re part of it too. Stay tuned for more of what I will continue to do.
It was a great joy participating in Modelle & Rotelle, as a model and host of the first video that documented what happened behind-the-scenes. It was a fabulous and unforgettable experience!
Special thanks to Fondazione Vertical.
Cheers to many more experiences like this with a purpose!
Thank you for witnessing through my writings, photos, and my videos what this experience has been like!