The Real Catwalk Is Back With Another Runway Show That Promotes Inclusivity and Diversity
The Real Catwalk is a nonprofit organization based in New York City that puts on a yearly runway show that celebrates all shapes, forms, colors, abilities, genders, and identities across the globe. The project was started by KhrystyAna Kazakova, a finalist on America's Next Top Model cycle 24 and curve activist, whose mission is to change the fashion industry's norm and promote self-love and acceptance for all.
This year, the COVID-safe runway show will showcase powerhouses like Jari Jones, Thaddeus Coates, Jeana Turner, and David Hand challenging the beauty and fashion industry's norms. The show couldn't have come at a better time with so many designers during Fashion Week still missing the mark when it comes to inclusivity. We talked with KhrystyAna to learn more about the virtual show, which is taking place on Saturday, Feb. 27.
"There are dangerous desires and temptations to look like someone else in the media — polished, retouched, shaped a certain way."
For this season, the organization tapped fashion designer Guvanch to create stunning looks for each model. "He made a beautiful bouquet for each outfit that symbolizes today's beauty standards. As gorgeous as the flowers are, they are also just a copy of another flower, implying that there are dangerous desires and temptations to look like someone else in the media — polished, retouched, shaped a certain way. At the top of the runway, each person stripped away the 'beauty standards' and the 'filters' we hide behind to reveal their authentic selves," KhrystyAna told POPSUGAR.
One can only hope that KhrystyAna's dream of not needing the show will come true soon. "I want to wake up one day realizing that there is no need for The Real Catwalk. I want to watch a TV series and see actual representation, like people who have disabilities playing lead roles, love interests, protagonists, and not necessarily a character with disabilities."
Hopefully, seeing this show will inspire more brands to showcase their collections on a diverse and inclusive group of models. Scroll on to read our interview with the founder, then get a glimpse at images from the upcoming runway show and tune in to watch the virtual show, which will release on Feb. 27.
Founder KhrystyAna Kazakova on Her Role Models
"I really look up to Tyra Banks. If it wasn't for her, The Real Catwalk would have never taken place. She pushed me to come out of my comfort zone when I strutted for her and ANTM in the middle of Times Square by myself in March 2017. Days later, there were seven of us doing our first catwalk for diversity and being cheered by hundreds of people. I learned a lot by watching Tyra — she always shares different accounts on social media, highlighting unique forms of beauty that otherwise I wouldn't see in the media. I've always thought it was generous and inspiring of her to do, so I expanded upon that mission of highlighting all types of beauty and created space and platforms for the people that touched me emotionally. I see the beauty in all people, and I hope The Real Catwalk embodies that mission with everything we do. I also really admire Megan Jayne Crabbe, Sarah Chiwaya, and Kelly U among many for being authentic, genuine, honest, open, and kind, yet moving and shaking the world to be a safer space for all."
KhrystyAna on the Inspiration Behind the Show
"I really like the energy behind the hashtag #TogetherApart — bringing people from all over the world into one, inclusive space of acceptance. Even hundreds and thousands of miles apart, we can feel the energy and support from one another. Whether you're home alone, stuck with noisy roommates, a loud family, or a grumpy pet, I want everyone to feel the power that is within themselves. I want everyone to recognize their worth, their importance, and use this platform as a space of celebration and love towards the bodies that they are in."
KhrystyAna on Model Casting
"The Real Catwalk doesn't have a limit of people who can strut the runway. We believe the runway belongs to everybody — every face and every personality. It's a celebration of all of people; a place where everyone can show up and strut to the cheer of the crowd. This year (due to the pandemic), we had to pivot and choose the models to walk the in-person show at Spring Studios, and everyone else virtually submitted their walks from home. Choosing the models for the Spring Studio show was the hardest thing to do because I wanted everyone to partake in it. I did not want to feel the pressure of picking or the pressure of tokenism, so I had to go with my gut and heart. I gathered a strong, inspiring group of people that would be comfortable with each other considering the time. And yes, we were following every safety precaution."