Aaron Rose Phillip Longs Breaks Down Barriers for Models with Disabilities

Paris As 2021 draws to a close and traditional end-of-year roundups and top 10s start to hit online, Aaron Rose Philippe took to Twitterverse to ask the question. Deserving of a top newcomer, breakout star, or ‘social mover’?”

The 21-year-old model referenced appearing on the Moschino runway for the Spring 2022 show at New York Fashion Week, but felt she didn’t receive enough recognition. was her latest call to action for an industry that often offers lip service to diversity but rarely opens up to people with disabilities.

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Since then, Philip has created edgy editorials for Interview and ShowStudio, and has appeared in Collina Strada’s Fall 2022 collection video. She is an ambassador for her Amazon Luxury Stores and has also partnered with Mugler fragrances.

He signed with Community New York and now also represents Milk Management in the UK. Phillip also recently co-hosted his In The Know video for Yahoo on the web his series “The Truth Is” on his platform, interviewing guests such as actor Tommy Dorfman and drag his artist Junior Mintt. By doing so, I made my debut as a broadcaster.

When Alexander McQueen brought Paralympic athlete Amy Mullins down the runway in 1998, it was almost unheard of for luxury brands to work with models with disabilities. In recent years, it has evolved gradually.

For example, Gucci has Down’s syndrome model Ellie Goldstein as the face of its 2020 beauty campaign, and Rihanna has featured a model with disabilities for its Savage x Fenty fashion show. Jillian Mercado made her runway debut two years ago in a wheelchair for New York-based independent brand The Bronze.

Moschino, Spring 2022 - Credit: Masato Onoda for WWD

Moschino, Spring 2022 – Credit: Masato Onoda for WWD

WWD Masato Onoda

Last year, Philip became the first wheelchair model to appear on the runway of a mainstream luxury brand. She attributes this to Moschino’s creative her director Jeremy Scott and her own perseverance.

“It’s something I’ve been working on for five years,” she says. “And I’m totally honored that it finally happened. But I don’t want it to end there. I didn’t just let it be a one-off moment. My career is serious.” As an able-bodied person, I want to build a career like my friends.”

The Antigua-born model, who immigrated to the United States as a child, is campaigning for mainstream recognition and visibility, not only as a person with a disability, but as a black transgender woman⁠— A category fashion that we deem equally underrated.

“Disability should be one of the most important conversations in the fashion world, but I want to say something else,” she told WWD in a lively Zoom conversation from New York City.

“I’m really haunted by the way fashion works for trans people as models. I feel like a lot of casting directors themselves, so I’m very energetic in supporting trans talent online and in text.” But when the time comes… In fact, we know that New York Fashion Week campaigns and runways send us to London, Milan, Paris, and everything else, but especially to black trans women, They don’t give me opportunities or jobs,” she says.

Aaron Rose Phillip on the digital cover of V magazine. - Credit: Provided by V Magazine

Aaron Rose Phillip on the digital cover of V magazine. – Credit: Provided by V Magazine

Courtesy of V Magazine

Phillip herself has been lucky to have the endorsement of industry heavyweights who have championed her in many ways, including Scott, Naomi Campbell, Marc Jacobs, Donatella Versace and Ricardo Tisci. Miley Cyrus featured her in the video for her 2019 song “Mother’s Daughter,” which has over 128 million views on her YouTube.

And Campbell interviewed Philip in 2019 for Paper magazine. Less than a year after she signed with Elite Models her management, a tweet posted a shot of her head went viral.

“I remember when they told me she was going to interview me. It was such a big thing for me and it was such a wonderful day,” she recalls.

Philippe is always grateful and grateful to those who have helped her reach her goals, but it’s clear that she’s her own biggest supporter. Determination was prominent from an early age. When she was only 14, she wrote a memoir about growing up with her cerebral palsy, titled “This Kid Can Fly: It’s About Ability (Not a Disability).”

Since then, she has stubbornly worked her way up. “In my career, nothing is very canonical,” she admits.

“For the last 21 years, I feel like someone who has lived many different lives. But I was always trying to do storytelling and always highlight what a disabled life is, what a disabled experience is. To do.

“I would go to the playground at school and people would give me weird looks and not want to play with me,” she said, adding that since the transition she’s seen herself reflected in fashion magazines. “I’ve never seen disabled representation in fashion, so I thought maybe they didn’t think about us. That’s what a 16-year-old It’s kind of what motivated me to start a modeling career sometimes.”

Aaron Rose Phillip - Credit: Anthony Tudisco/Courtesy of Community New York

Aaron Rose Phillip – Credit: Anthony Tudisco/Courtesy of Community New York

Courtesy of Anthony Tudisco/Community New York

According to the World Health Organization, 15% of people have some form of disability, making it the largest minority community in the world. Of these, 2% to 4% experience significant functional problems.

According to market research firm Coherent Market Insights, the global market for clothing for people with disabilities and medical issues will be valued at $334.5 billion in 2021, with compound annual growth from 2022 to 2030. The rate is projected to be 4.9%.

Mass retailers such as Target and Asos have launched adaptive apparel lines, but few designers have ventured into this segment. A notable exception is Tommy Hilfiger, who launched an adaptive collection in 2016. Meanwhile, Derek Lamb increased the visibility of his fashion inclusive by partnering with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation on the Design for Disability fashion show.

Most recently, Kim Kardashian’s shapewear brand Skims released an underwear line for people with disabilities that features easy-access closures.

Faced with a shortage of options, Philip wants to contribute to the design of clothing collections, but he doesn’t want to stop there.

“In fact, I’ve always wanted to get into the world of casting directors. What should I do?” she says.

Having more people with disabilities on the shoot also helps raise awareness of the specific needs of models who use wheelchairs and other mobility aids, she reasons.

“A lot of clients reach out to me, give me options, pretty much confirm many things, but in the end they say, ‘Wait, this is not accessible to your wheelchair. I can’t pick you up.” Actually. ‘It used to be more heartbreaking but now I know that’s how things go. But I want to see change and I know change is possible ‘ she says.

“In our hearts, we want brands to understand that people with disabilities also wear clothes. As a talent, as a photo producer, as a production team, we should be represented in fashion on-set and off-set,” she adds.

Aaron Rose Phillip on the cover of Perfect magazine. - Credit: Courtesy of Perfect Magazine

Aaron Rose Phillip on the cover of Perfect magazine. – Credit: Courtesy of Perfect Magazine

Courtesy of Perfect Magazine

She cites Scott as an example of someone who is willing to go one step further.

“I think more brands should be able to take these steps that Jeremy did, like having lamps and talking to venues and making sure models with disabilities are encouraged, welcomed and adapted to work. “That act literally changed my life. It made me realize I could do it in the way I saw fit.” It gave me the ability to work the way I do.”

Air travel is another challenging area, highlighted by the death last year of disability advocate Engracia Figueroa after the airline damaged a custom-built wheelchair. Philip himself has had some bad experiences as well.

“One time, I was on a plane to Los Angeles, and the plane lost my wheelchair lap tray, making it impossible for me to eat properly and using the equipment to communicate with people. “I couldn’t speak properly, I couldn’t use my cell phone, I couldn’t get my hands right. It was so crazy. And these things happen so often, it’s not good,” she says.

She often uses social media platforms to draw attention to such injustices and to support transgender women in emergencies, but resists being labeled an activist.

“I’m just a model,” she says. “I don’t think helping people makes you an activist by default. Activism is a very dedicated career path.”

Instead, she uses her platform to campaign for equal opportunities for models with disabilities.

“We need other models with disabilities, other models using mobility aids and hearing aids, different models with different types of disabilities for runways and campaigns and magazine covers,” she says.

“My goal is definitely to do campaigns for all the brands: Burberry, Moschino, Versace,” continues Philippe. “I want full wheelchair coverage. I want the world to understand that people with disabilities deserve to be seen and known as fashionable, trendy and beautiful people.

Launch Gallery: Aaron Rose Phillip Longs Breaks Down Barriers for Models with Disabilities

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