In a world where the mainstream concept of what is and isn’t beautiful becomes increasingly narrow, you have to be young, you have to be thin, you should preferably be blonde, and of course, pale skinned,” lamented Alexander McQueen in his 1998 guest-edited issue of Dazed & Confused. On the cover, model Aimee Mullins stood defiantly in prosthetic legs beside the headline “Fashion-Able?” The question mark was left hanging – challenging readers to recognise a vision of beauty that was unlike anything that had been seen before.
Within the issue, a 14-page fashion editorial was dedicated to models with disabilities. However, despite newspaper reports that the disability diverse photoshoot had broken down “one of the last bastions of body fascism”, very little changed. Two decades after McQueen’s groundbreaking recognition, is the fashion industry finally taking notice?