As you read this, you will learn how Lila Moss Hack brought diabetes to the catwalk. There were many stories about the Fendace show that took place at the end of Milan Fashion Week in September. Fendi designers Kim Jones and Silvia Fendi made their own version of Versace, and Donatella Versace made her own Fendi. It was the first time two brands from different luxury groups were let loose in each other’s archives. Kristin McMenamy, Naomi Campbell, Amber Valletta, Kate Moss, and Gigi Hadid were all on the runway.
Despite this, the most interesting thing about Lila Grace Moss Hack’s Fendi x Versace swimsuit, which was cut high on the thigh, and her white tubeless pump, which was visible on her upper left leg, may have been the most important thing about her show.
An Omnipod insulin pump is used to treat Type 1 diabetes (T1D), an autoimmune disease that can be found at any age. My daughter was diagnosed when she was 8 and it was impossible to miss; she had it for a long time before she went to the doctor. In fashion, the fact that it was on the runway, highlighting a condition that isn’t always visible, was another step in the process of making fashion more inclusive.
If you look at The Fashion Spot, a trend forecasting site, you’ll see that models with disabilities are still underrepresented and underrepresented.
Laura Winson is the manager of Zebedee Management, a modelling agency that was started in 2017 to help disabled and visually different models find jobs. “Before Zebedee, disability was not a part of the discussion about diversity,” she told her friend. “Only 0.02 percent of the people in fashion ads had a disability.”
The picture of Ms. Moss Hack with her pump at Fendace quickly spread through the T1D community. According to JDRF, which funds research into T1D, there are about 1.6 million Americans who have it. Melany Grey wrote in Ms. Moss Hack’s Instagram feed: “The whole T1D community is so proud of you.” My 11-year-old T1D daughter loves seeing your picture. And Eliska Pole said, “Thank you for wearing your insulin pump so well.”
The only model in the Fendace show who wore a swimsuit was Moss Hack. She didn’t say why she made the decision to go public with her pump, but given how much attention models get on a runway, it’s hard to believe that the choice was an accident.
The fact that Moss Hack and two other models, Stephanie Bambi Northwood-Blyth and Grace Clover, both have Type 1 diabetes and wear insulin pumps, did not show up in more than 30 magazine covers, features, and runway photos shows that this is even more important. Whether they were taken off, hidden, or airbrushed out isn’t clear, but it’s also clear that they were erased.
Northwood-Blyth is an Aussie-born model who has worked for Balenciaga and Chanel. She was also the face of Calvin Klein’s CK One perfume. Since she was 14, she has been a model, and at 12 she learned that she had Type 1 diabetes. A T1D advocate said that even though she has found support in the industry, sometimes she has chosen to remove her glucose monitor while on the job.
The choice was always hers because there are days she wants to talk about diabetes, but there are also days when she doesn’t want to talk about it or doesn’t have a one-line explanation ready to go, said Ms. Northwood-Blyth, who has diabetes.
During her time as a model, Ms. Clover didn’t know if she would be asked to remove her pump on set. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 14, two years before she started modelling.
Asked if it was going to be a problem because it would be visible in the look, she said: “I completely understand that. I think I’ve been.” Then, “Photoshop can be used to remove it.”
Glucose pumps, like the one worn by Ms. Moss Hack, help to cut down on finger pricks and insulin injections and improve blood sugar control for people with Type 1 diabetes.
Because Lila had been wearing her pump, Ms. Clover realised that instead of sharing her experience more openly with people, she had been relying on the practicality of communicating with them. She now wears her CGM for every modelling job.
It’s Levi Asher, the associate director of development at IMG Models, who said, “I hope that people can look at Grace as a role model and know that they can do anything they set their minds to, too.”
Sinead Burke, an Irish author and disability activist, has achondroplasia, which is the most common form of dwarfism. She says that seeing models with disabilities on the runway is important because “fashion touches everyone because we all need to wear clothes,” she said. It’s almost always done.