YOU modelsRichmond, B.C. : Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux will be modelling a Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) student’s designs for women in wheelchairs at the university’s annual graduate fashion show, held at the River Rock Casino on April 24. For Kaylyn MacKenzie’s final project as a fourth-year KPU fashion design student, she set out to challenge the idea that adaptive apparel has to be out of style. Her designs – which will be modelled in three back-to-back shows by Cadieux and her friends Kirsten Sharp, peer program coordinator for Spinal Cord Injury BC, and Teri Thorson, Rick Hansen Foundation ambassador – are based on the principle that disability has no limitations. “With so few options for clothing that are up-to-date for those with disability, I decided to make my niche market female wheelchair users. Vancouver is very accommodating to those that live with occupational barriers in life, yet the only clothing lines available to those with disability are aimed at a mature market,” says MacKenzie, who believes that the ability to extend one’s personality through fashion should be available to everyone, in every situation. Along with her peers in KPU’s fashion, design and technology program, MacKenzie was required to extensively research market demands, needs and niches in order to create her final collection. To develop YOU, MacKenzie met with Cadieux. “Kaylyn really understands the unique challenges in finding clothes that work well and are comfortable when seated and wheeling,” says Cadieux. MacKenzie’s inspiration for YOU came from her experience working with disabilities ranging from autism, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries and bariatric persons. “This is clothing that takes me into consideration,” says Thorson. Sharp adds: “We’ve all heard the term ‘form and function’; Kaylyn brings this to a whole new level for the seated individual, while staying up to date with current fashion.”

“People need to realize that, for example, a wheelchair is only an extension of who that person is: it doesn’t make them who they are. Those without a disability need to look beyond what we like to think is a barrier. People with disabilities live every day the same as you and I,” says MacKenzie. The Show The Show, presented by Tamoda Apparel, will showcase 37 emerging designers, each with a unique fashion line.

The runway outfits range in style and audience, with fashions for men, women, children and tweens; athletics, travellers and professionals. The Show will feature lingerie, lounge-wear, beach-wear, and outer-wear for the street and for motorcyclists, as well as fashionable clothing designed specifically for people in wheelchairs, the eco-conscious and those preparing for the zombie apocalypse. The students – who are organizing the event in collaboration with other students, KPU faculty and staff, and industry experts – will display their garments in three back-to-back shows on April 24 at the River Rock Casino and Show Theatre in Richmond.

Tickets for The Show start at $18. For more information about the event, visit: