CULPEPER, Va.–Madeline Stuart, an 18-year-old Australian model with Down syndrome, continues to inspire with her latest photo shoot as a beautiful bride.
Stuart is working to change the way people view disabilities.
“She wants people to know that Down Syndrome is a blessing, something to be celebrated,” according to her website.
Stuart recently walked the catwalk at New York Fashion Week, where she modeled for FTL Moda. Isadora Martin-Dye, owner of a wedding venue in northern Virginia called Rixey Manor, heard about Stuart and approached her to model wedding gowns for her website.
“The wedding industry is set up to intimidate brides and couples. It’s set up to where they feel like they can’t do it,” Martin-Dye said. “I guess my whole thing was that I wanted to show that anybody on that day in that dress is the most beautiful person you’ve ever seen.”
Stuart had a great time and didn’t want to take off the dress at the end of the shoot, Martin-Dye said. She was photographed in a number of beaded and lace-embellished gowns, but one in particular caught her fancy.
“There was one dress that she put on and she had that moment that I had when I put on my wedding dress,” Martin-Dye said. “She wouldn’t let her mom come in because she kind of wanted to do that reveal first look with her mom when she saw her in the dress for the first time.”
The photographs will be used on Rixey Manor’s website and on Stuart’s Facebook page.
“Madeline was a natural in front of the camera and really made the whole shoot so much fun,” said photographer Sarah Houston.
Although Stuart doesn’t have imminent plans to marry, she’s looking forward to her wedding day, Martin-Dye said.
Stuart’s fans on Instagram and Twitter showered her with support after the shoot.
“You are an inspiration for all girls in the world. Congratulations for being so amazing and wonderful!,” said one.
Stuart began her modeling career after seeing a fashion show. She told her mother that she wanted to be a model, so her mom set up a professional photo shoot for her daughter and posted the results on Facebook.
The photographs went viral, and since then Madeline Stuart has walked the catwalk in New York Fashion Week twice and is the face of lipstick company GlossiGirl.