Ellie Goldstein has made history by being the first model with Down’s syndrome to be on the cover of British Vogue.
The latest edition focuses on 19 disabled people from the worlds of fashion, sport and the arts, and aims to represent some of the 16 million people living with invisible and visible disabilities in the UK, and show how the fashion industry can be more inclusive.
In an interview with British Vogue, Ellie explains why it is so important to see models with disabilities represented in fashion campaigns. She says that while disability representation in the media has improved, there is still a long way to go.
“Brands shouldn’t be afraid to [cast] people like me; I know I bring happiness with my work and make people smile. Everyone should be seen and not hidden. [People with disabilities] can be easily overlooked and written off. We are the same as everyone else, sometimes a bit slower in things, but we need to be given a chance,” she said.
Now, Ellie has partnered with Barbie manufacturer Mattel to launch its first doll with Down’s syndrome. Mattel has also created dolls who use wheelchairs, have prosthetic limbs and hearing aids. Ellie said she was “honoured and proud” to be chosen as a partner for the campaign.
Ellie’s modelling career took off after she starred in a Gucci beauty campaign
The 21-year-old Essex-born model has had a successful modelling career so far. In 2020, she was the face of Gucci’s beauty campaign featuring their L’Obscur mascara, which led to modelling jobs with Adidas, Victoria’s Secret and ASOS.
Ellie Goldstein is also an ambassador for the learning disability charity Mencap, and she has used the platform to show that “people with a learning disability are all equals and can live their best lives”.
Ellie took part in Mencap’s Myth Buster campaign, which aimed to show others with disabilities that they too can achieve their dreams.
She says her goal was always to be on the cover of Vogue, and since she was just a girl, she has always loved to dress up.
“Accessibility and disability inclusion is everyone’s responsibility”
The May edition of British Vogue also features four other cover stars, activist Sinéad Burke, actress Selma Blair, model Aaron Rose Philip and American Sign Language interpreter and performer Justina Miles, all of whom have disabilities.
The publication aims to shine a light on how the fashion industry can be more inclusive and what it can do to adapt to better support the disabled community.
Sinéad Burke proposed the idea of a disability-focused cover story, made with and for the disabled community, and developed the idea together with British Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful.
Mr Enniful, who has visual and hearing impairments and a blood disorder, said working on the issue was “one of the proudest moments” of his career.
Ms Burke now hopes the issue has put in place “benchmarks and processes” that will be embedded across the company indefinitely, she writes in an article for Vogue.
However, she notes that the publication of this issue is “a start, not a destination”. She said there is still much work to do, and change will require a shift in mindset and a collective effort.
“Accessibility and disability inclusion is everyone’s responsibility and opportunity. This is a movement, not a moment. And it involves all of us,” she concludes.