HandiFashion 2015 – My experience
What is HandiFashion?
In October 2015 I had the great pleasure to take part in the fashion show HandiFashion by Mougins in France. HandiFashion”, which was created in April 2012 by French journalist Corine Tonarelli, is a national fashion concept showing fashion for all. It took place in Paris twice and also in Aix-en-Provence and Aubagne. Beauty and fashion are not restricted to able-bodied as can be seen in these days fashion shows/adds with models like Winnie Harlow, Jillian Mercado or Madeline Stuart. The Handifashion models (with and without disabilities) were chosen at a casting in June 2015. And I should be one of them.
How it all began
On a sunny and warm day last spring I was hanging around at the beach of Juan Les Pins together with my sweetheart. After a while I noticed some people staring at me for a long time but this didn’t bother me any further. But only a couple of minutes later they came over to see me. And WHAT an astonishing surprise: Sonia, who was part of the organization team, really asked if I could imagine to take part in a fashion show, called Handifashion by Mougins, as a model! “Hhmmm, ME, a model in a fashion show with many people !!?? Am I ready for this??!!” were my first thoughts. But I also noticed some arising excitement in my belly – in a positive way. And then I simply replied “Okay! Let’s give it a try! I’ll go to the casting!”. Sonia took a picture of me and gave me all the info about the casting in the following June. At that time I didn’t really believe that I would pass the casting anyway…!
The day of the casting came and I was very nervous to walk – or let’s better say to “roll” – in front of the jury. Luckily my boyfriend decided to give it a try, too as we were told that it could be fun to see us together as a real couple. And so the two of us had the chance to do the casting, which made it easier! The jury, including Sonia, asked us to present ourselves and we had to answer some questions (like if we had some experience in modeling or acting and how we see fashion in general). The funny thing is that I don’t care for fashion trends or brands. I simply wear what I like – I’m not very girly or stylish and this I told the jury. They then turned up the volume and each of us had to walk up and down the catwalk. I liked the song and did what I would do if I were a model. My boyfriend and I then walked one more time hand in hand. Afterwards I absolutely had no clue about how I presented myself and if my attempt of “wheeling” up and down the catwalk was good or not. Pictures of us were taken and we were recorded on video. The jury told us that we would get news in about 3 weeks time.
And what else should I say: 3 weeks later my phone rang and Sonia asked “Do you guys have anything planned for the 10th of October yet???”. I didn’t get it at first – but THEN – we were chosen! The perfect surprise was that we were also chosen to be the wedding couple at the end of the fashion show! Oh my god! Me as bride and my chéri as groom! This can’t be true! I felt frightened and happy and overwhelmed at the same time. My boyfriend was much more serene though.
We met the other beautifully different and beautifully valid models only once for repetitions. All of them were nice and we had a good time together at the repetition training. I’ve met some people with very inspiring personalities which I do admire! After the repetitions I was really looking forward to the D-day. We met for the fittings twice. My boyfriend and I felt happy with our outfits and the big day came closer and closer.
And there it was – October 31st! At 10:30 am we met the whole crew at Eco Parc Mougins and straight away got to work on our choreography. The catwalk scenery was just amazing. I didn’t expect the Handifashion show to be as professional! As we got to know that there would be more than 400 people watching I slightly felt like escaping… !! But there was no time to think about this fact for too long as we had to change into our outfits twice for training. The whole group had lunch together which was followed by the final repetition. We then had our hair done and got professional make-up (yep, the men too). All the girls and boys looked so handsome! When the make-up artist finished my beauty look it was almost 8 pm! Not much time left neither for changing nor for getting ready mentally. With my hair and make-up I felt pretty, which helped me to gain confidence. My dressing assistants were adorable and they made me relax. I already heard the opening words of our amazing host Matthieu Nina and of special guest Noémie Lenoir (international model and actress). My heartbeat began to race, my hands got wet and I felt sick… “Breath, Melanie, breath!” I told myself. Just minutes before the opening of Handifashion by Mougins 2015 I really did feel as if I would faint! I only wanted the show to start… I was the fourth or fifth model to walk onto the stage. All the other models also couldn’t wait for the show to begin and we all wished us good luck and much fun! The DJ played the first song and the models Margot and James opened the show.
Then everything happened really fast. Our song began to play and I rolled out on the catwalk in my first outfit. And there I was! Luckily I didn’t really see the audience as the light spots shone right into my face. I didn’t even realize the flash lights of all the photographers. My first run was over as fast as it began. I hurried back to the fitting room and got changed. My second outfit showed pretty much skin which made me feel like if I was playing a role – personally I would never even consider wearing a dress like this one…! But the job had to be done and about 20 minutes later I turned back into the spotlight with the beats of Michael Jackson’s “Love never felt so good”. The second time I fully enjoyed the moment. The stress and stage fright were all gone.
After the fashion show we had the pleasure to meet Noémie Lenoir. Noémie is such a beautiful woman, I’ve seen her in ads and films before and couldn’t believe that she was standing next to us. She was really nice and together with my groom we took some pictures. Noémie even gave me a kiss on the cheek. She said that I did a great job. Wow! I was so shy that I couldn’t say more than “Thank you!“. With the help of my dressing girls I changed back into my own clothes and so did the rest of us.