Torrey Pines High School grad gets worldwide attention for runway show

Carrie Hammer’s runway show was the first to use a model with Down syndrome. She and the show have received kudos from around the world.
Carrie Hammer’s runway show was the first to use a model with Down syndrome. She and the show have received kudos from around the world.
( / Courtesy)

Last year for New York Fashion Week, 2003 Torrey Pines High School graduate and Rancho Santa Fe native Carrie Hammer garnered attention for a unique kind of fashion show with the theme “Role Models Not Runway Models.”

The show, which was meant to break down the exclusive barriers of the fashion world and showcase models who aren’t usually seen on a runway, was a runaway success and spurred her to continue the theme.

“This was the one-year anniversary of our first show,” explained Hammer as she began to settle down after what was a whirlwind of work and attention. “Oh my gosh, it’s been unbelievable. I literally can’t believe it.”

One reason Hammer is still reeling is because of the viral attention the show has received from the press, thanks to a novel idea meant to spark change in fashion circles.

“After my first show, I got an email from an organization called Changing the Face of Beauty about how important and inspiring the show was,” Hammer said. “I was then connected to Jamie Brewer.”

Brewer, an actress who has appeared on “American Horror Story,” has Down syndrome and Hammer felt she was the perfect person to include in order to raise awareness for the condition. As a result, Brewer was the first model with Down syndrome to model during fashion week in its entire history.

“I’m so proud, it’s been so exciting,” said Hammer. “It’s creating real change, because I get messages every day about how the show is special and how it’s transforming people’s lives and ideas.”

As a result of including Brewer, as well as other disabled models who have high-powered jobs in organizations such as the Clinton Global Initiative, Price WaterhouseCoopers, and Microsoft, Hammer and the show have received kudos from everyone from fashion icon Victoria Beckham to ABC television.

“When ‘ABC World News’ covered us, it was huge,” said Hammer of the attention from the national broadcast. “That [story] led to a lot of attention.”

Other outlets that covered the show ran the gamut, from publications such as Time Magazine, USA Today, and Cosmopolitan, to television shows that included “The Today Show” and “Entertainment Tonight” — among dozens of others.

Press adoration led to the show to even becoming a worldwide trending topic on Facebook for the better part of two days.

“All of my San Diego friends sprinkled all over the country have been going berserk,” said Hammer. “People from Torrey Pines who I haven’t heard from in a long time have been reaching out as well. It’s been very nice.”

This season’s show was extra special for Hammer, considering her mother, Jean, whom she calls her “ultimate role model,” also walked the runaway. (Her father, Steven, was in the front row.)

“A lot of other people in fashion are taking notice of what we’re doing,” said Hammer. “It’s promoting diversity on the runaway, and that’s exactly what we wanted it to do in the first place.”

Visit www.carriehammer.com.


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