In many of their previous shows over the years, designer duo Nikheil and Rivendra had the likes of Carol Maria Gracias and Nataša Stankovic as their showstoppers, but recently the designers turned heads when they chose the world’s first wheelchair-bound model Alexandra Kutas as their showstopper. Alexandra made her debut at the recently-concluded India Runway Week.
She wore an elegant blue gown but the 23-year-old wishes to wear saris and salwar-kameez in future. She says, “I want to do photoshoot assignments in Indian dresses more than sashaying down the ramp,” and adds, “With my arrival I’ve noticed that brands and designers are thinking that maybe the audience will accept differently-abled models.”
Kutas hopes that with her work she can make people see that beauty can come with a difference. “Ever since I began modelling in Ukraine, people’s perception towards diversity has changed. Brands like me after seeing my photos but the moment they see me on a wheelchair, they back out. I’m trying to break those barriers. With my passion and professional ethics, I’m as good as any other model even if I’m wheelchair-bound,” says the journalist-turned-model.
While starting off, she never faced any negative reactions. “They didn’t say I was bad, they said the market isn’t ready for me. All I could do was prove them wrong,” she says.
Her designers, too, wanted to challenge the stereotypes. “Most of our clients are not like conventional models. They are short, overweight, dark but they all want to dress and look well. From our childhood, we have been fed wrong notions like fair is beautiful, dark is ugly. Introducing Alexandra was our small effort at breaking norms and sending out a message that no one is less,” says Nikheil.