Fashion

Madeline Stuart: The Australian model making the catwalk her own

Walk this way! Meet the international Aussie model who has strut down catwalks across the world.
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Homegrown star Madeline Stuart is an inspiring individual.

Shooting to fame with a healthy eating journey that caught the world’s attention in 2015, the results of which saw her lose 25kg, she chased down her dream of becoming the first professional supermodel with Down syndrome and autism.

WATCH: What not to ask the parent of a child with down syndrome

The 26-year-old is now globally known and has more than 350,000 social media followers. 

“My favourite thing about modelling is meeting people,” she explains to WHO. “I’m proud to represent my community and I love wearing beautiful clothes!”

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Madeline has been in the public eye since 2015. (Credit: Supplied)

However, Madeline adds there are drawbacks in her career. “My least favourite thing is the long flights and having my hair done sometimes, if people are not gentle.”

Madeline has walked in more than 100 fashion shows across the world, including New York, London and Paris Fashion Weeks. She’s also worked at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in China, Astrakhan Fashion Week in Russia and modelled at Runway Dubai, too. A documentary celebrating her success, Maddy the Model, was released at film festivals around the world in 2020.

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Madeline has modelled around the world. (Credit: Supplied)

One of model Madeline’s biggest fans is her mother, Rosanne, 51, who has worked tirelessly in support of her daughter’s career and describes their relationship as having “morphed” into a “friendship” nowadays.

“Madeline is my best friend. We work together like two peas in a pod, it’s just easy,” Rosanne shares.

“Our days are filled with love and laughter, and we encourage each other all the time. I am extremely blessed to have my beautiful daughter.”

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Mum Rosanne and Madeline are busy proving they can achieve anything. (Credit: Supplied)

Rosanne supported her daughter to follow her dream back in 2014, when they attended a fashion parade in Brisbane and Madeline said to her mother, “Mum, I want to model.”

To help Madeline realise her dream, they embarked on a health transformation journey together, posting before and after shots on social media, which went viral overnight. 

The photos gained over 6.8 million views.

WATCH: An interview with Madeline and Rosanne (article continues after video)

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This year marks the 18th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) on March 21.

The Down Syndrome International Network’s focus this year is on the right to legal capacity, which means that the law recognises all as a person with rights – something many people with Down syndrome are denied. 

According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), people living with disabilities are entitled to “the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity” on an “equal basis with others in all aspects of life”.

Legal capacity also means that the law recognises a person as someone who is allowed to make decisions about their own life, including about healthcare or where to live. 

Madeline doesn’t take her role as an advocate for inclusivity and diversity lightly, nor the visibility that also comes with her modelling career.

She says, “I feel so lucky to have this opportunity, it is such an exciting thing to be able to work with lots of people and change people’s opinion about disabilities.”

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Madeline with Russell Crowe at a GQ Australia event in 2022. (Credit: Instagram)

A typical working day for Madeline spans eight to sometimes 12 hours. “She handles that aspect of the job with professionalism and passion,” says her mum, Rosanne. 

“I am so proud. She has worked so hard to achieve everything that she has done and she has an amazing work ethic, too.” 

Rosanne adds when Madeline was younger, doctors told her that her life would be difficult. “All we heard about was the obstacles she’d face.” Now, the proud mum attributes Madeline’s success to her passion for her work and the fact that “she has never forgotten her friends, and her kindness to everyone around her is just beautiful. I think this is why she has been so successful and why she’s a great role model”.

As well as her flourishing career, Madeline and Rosanne have founded dance school InsideOutside Dance, a space for people with disabilities to enjoy the freedom of expression together. Madeline says she regularly attends  to “keep active and stay emotionally stable”. 

When Madeline isn’t walking the runway, she still spends time working out, but when she does have some down time, she likes to hang out with her friends and take relaxing holidays. 

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Madeline is a model and a role model. (Credit: Instagram)

While modelling is clearly something she loves doing, she’s also brimming with ambition when it comes to the next stage of her career. “I would like to go to the Met Gala ball, and I would also like to work with Chanel,” she says.

And those bucket-list dreams may soon become a reality, as Madeline has recently signed with international modelling agency, IMG. 

“We are very excited to have Madeline sign with IMG talent in Australia. Maddy is a pioneer in the fashion space,” a spokesperson from IMG Australia said.

“Maddy’s continued advocacy has helped open the doors for other differently abled people to be featured, not only on runways, but in major brand campaigns globally. IMG is committed to championing a diverse talent portfolio and we look forward to working with Maddy to continue her amazing work in this space.” 

While she may have some big dreams, Madeline also keeps it simple when asked what makes her happiest. “My friends, dance and modelling,” she says. “I’m at my happiest then for sure.”

(Follow Madeline’s career via Instagram @madelinesmodelling_)

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