Jamie Brewer just made fashion history.
The American actress, best known for her role in the FX series American Horror Story, was the first model with Down syndrome to walk in New York Fashion Week on Thursday. She wore an original design by Carrie Hammer.
Brewer graced the runway as part of Hammer’s Role Models Not Runway Models campaign, through which the designer tries to represent the real women who purchase her clothes. Hammer started the campaign at last year’s Fashion Week; the first show featured her friend, Dr. Danielle Sheypuk, who uses a wheelchair.
“Young girls and even young women … [see me] and say, ‘Hey, if she can do it, so can I,'” Brewer told Today. “It’s a true inspiration being a role model for any young women to [encourage them] in being who they are, and showing who they are.”
“It exceeded every one of my expectations,” Hammer told Mashable. “When I think it can’t get any better, it gets 10 times better. The women were so happy, and that’s the most important thing to me.”
Hammer was inspired to include Brewer in the campaign after she received an email from Katie Driscoll, cofounder of the nonprofit Changing the Face of Beauty, which advocates for the inclusion of people with disabilities in media and advertising. Driscoll’s daughter, Grace, was born with Down syndrome, and she wrote to Hammer asking her to feature a role model for Grace.
Hammer was more than happy to, and Driscoll suggested getting in touch with Brewer.
“The second [Brewer and I] chatted, she was an obvious choice. She’s a TV star … and she’s already kind of a fashion icon — she walks red carpets all the time,” Hammer said.
Brewer is also an activist for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, having been elected to the board of the State of Texas ARC when she was 19.
Carrie and the fabulous @MsJamieBrewer! Now off to get some beauty sleep before tomorrow. #RoleModelsNotRunwayModels pic.twitter.com/8ypwiKuopp
— CARRIE HAMMER (@carriehammer) February 12, 2015
Hammer said during the first rehearsal run-through, everyone was timid and nervous — except Brewer, who confidently rocked it each time.
“If TV doesn’t work out, the runway’s for Jamie,” she said.
Hammer told Today that Brewer’s look on Thursday — a black, knee-length dress cinched at the waist with a black belt — was inspired by her character on American Horror Story.
“American Horror Story is dark, scary, bewitching, so we had to go with black, and Jamie has a beautiful body with a teeny waist and curves, and we went with an A-line,” she said.
She hopes Thursday’s show inspires women, and helps to change the standards of the fashion industry.
“I call it the runway revolution,” Hammer told Mashable. “Women can see these women in high positions and also see that they’re beautiful and feminine and incredible … I hope young women see this and say, ‘I want to do that. I can do that.'”