Woman participates in new fashion show to include people with disabilities

A Burien Woman is taking modeling in directions it has never gone before. Allegra Keys is living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and says that the condition is not stopping her from taking a turn on a runway.

“When I was a kid I never saw anyone that looked like me on TV, let alone a fashion show,” says Keys.

The world of top-flight fashion is by its nature exclusive as designers create limited amounts of clothes that people pay top dollar for if they want the latest trends. Even the chance to show clothes at fashion events has limited slots.

But Keys who has SMA says the fashion world can be exclusive, but it cannot exclude people like her.

“It’s difficult to find clothes that fit me in flattering ways especially because I am an adult and desire to look like one,” added Keys.

Keys is upending the world of fashion with a show called Double Take sponsored by Genentech. A traditional fashion show usually has only able-bodied models, but Double Take models are from the SMA community with designs just for them.

“It demonstrates to the non-disabled community that people with disabilities are here and deserve to take up the same types of spaces that they take up,” says Keys.

Keys admits her self-esteem took a hit when she realized no clothes had ever been made for her, and people making clothes probably never thought of her.

That all changed at New York Fashion Week last year when she sported an outfit with fabric tailor-made for her.

“I have always liked fashion but I didn’t really understand what compelled me to loving it until working on this fashion show,” says Keys.

The first Double Take show last fall at NY Fashion Week was such a huge success it’s being done again. This year it will be in Orlando during an SMA Conference and Keys will be modeling clothes adapted to her needs by Open Style Lab, a nonprofit working to create functional styles for the disabled.

“Programs like this focus on what connects us to non-disabled people as opposed to what separates us which is huge! A concept like accessible clothing for someone like me translates to accessible clothing for all,” says Keys.

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