The biggest sensation to hit New York’s Fashion Week wasn’t a model walking the runway it was Dr. Danielle Sheypuk rolling the catwalk in her wheelchair. Featured in the Carrie Hammer fashion show, Sheypuk has been in a wheelchair since age five due to spinal muscular atrophy but has never let that stop her from accomplishing her goals. A New York-based clinical psychologist who was also Ms. Wheelchair New York in 2012, Sheypuk modeled briefly in high school in Scranton, PA, but never thought it would go beyond that.
However, last year at a gala event, Sheypuk met Carrie Hammer and was asked to participate in her upcoming show. Hammer left a job in advertising sales to start her own clothing line and wanted “role” models instead of “runway” models when she was creating her show. Hammer also included CEO’s, entrepreneurs and a former Miss USA for this year’s show but it was Sheypuk who stole the show.
“I remember tons and tons of flashbulbs going off and people applauding a lot,” Sheypuk told ABC News. “The consensus afterwards was that the models, all of us, we exuded this happiness and pride that infiltrated the room, and the audience reacted”.
This spring Sheypuk will also be featured in the Raw Beauty Project, a series of glamorous and sexy images of women with disabilities. Sheypuk says it is time for all of the fashion industry to follow Hammer’s lead.
“Fashion is about dressing the body you have,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what disability you have, or if you have one, it’s about knowing what to accentuate”.
Hammer plans on featuring “role” models again when Fashion Week returns in the fall. Hammer joins London fashion label Debenham’s as the first in fashion to feature disabled women in ads and shows. Sheypuk is hoping with the barrier finally broken other brands will join in.
“I would like the whole spectrum of fashion designers to tune in, all the way up to high fashion like Tory Burch, Gucci and Louis Vuitton because why not”, Sheypuk said. “Many of us have successful careers and we have money and we want to spend it and we want to look good”.