WHS rocks the Runway of Dreams


Photo by Audrey Pucciarelli

Models in the Runway of Dreams fashion show

On May 31, WHS junior Jillian LaConti and freshman Charlotte Cohen put together a fashion show called Runway of Dreams in the WHS auditorium, enabling children with and without disabilities to rock their individual styles.

With 550 people watching the 42 models in their dream outfits, LaConti and Cohen were not only able to help make a difference in these kids’ lives, but make the dreams of student designers at WHS come true.

In 2014, Mindy Scheier, an incredibly empowering woman, founded the Runway of Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit organization. The goal of the RODF was to create a future of inclusion, acceptance and opportunity in the fashion industry for people with disabilities. The RODF supports charitable ambitions to bring awareness to adaptive clothing.

Scheier became inspired to modify the fashion industry in honor of her middle child, Oliver, who struggles with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. At the event, Scheier told a story about her son questioning his difference from his classmates: “He came home from school when he was eight years old and said that he wanted to wear jeans like everybody else gets to wear.”

For Scheier, helping Oliver was a challenge. The difficulty came from the question: “Do I let him go to school knowing he will not be able to go to the bathroom on his own, or do I tell my eight-year-old that he cannot wear the same things all of the other kids were wearing?” In this moment, Scheier realized she wanted to make the change in the world that could alter her son’s future.

After teaching the two girls from a young age at her school, Future Fashionistas, Scheier expressed her admiration for LaConti and Cohen’s dedication to creating adaptive clothing.

“These two girls, who have grown up with this passion to make change happen in the fashion industry, make me believe my son is going to grow up in a world that doesn’t think about him differently,” said Scheier.

LaConti feels that “it is so important for all people, no matter their ability, to feel  empowered and recognized in society.”

From local stores to student designers, models were able to strut down the runway with various wardrobes for different occasions: summer fun, neon, night out and street wear. These all-inclusive categories were the perfect mix for the show.

The benefit of the adaptive clothes was clear when these models had to make quick changes backstage. Ideas such as replacing button snaps and zippers with magnets and Velcro allow for all people to get dressed more comfortably and efficiently. 

Fashion is something that builds self-confidence and makes a person feel happy, beautiful, handsome and unstoppable. Designers of today and designers of the future look at fashion as their creative outlet.

Cohen said, “I find so much of my identity in fashion and design and only hope to continue that.”

It’s their way of expressing themselves, similar to how the RODF grants people with the opportunity to be bold with their sense of style.

With over five months of planning and preparation up until the last run-through before the doors opened, Cohen explained, “The hard work really went on until the very last second. It was such a fun, unforgettable experience putting this all together and watching our dreams and theirs come to life.”

Designers featured at the show

Cosmic clothez

Languages NJ

Styled N Strut