While fashion and the perception of beauty continue to evolve with social norms, so do industry conceptions of diversity. In the past, the vast majority of beauty and fashion companies emphasized homogenous standards, excluding the very people they claimed to represent. With society’s gradual adoption of more inclusive perspectives and criticism against those who oppose them, the industry has expanded its definition of beauty to include all races, genders, body sizes, and disabilities.
For years, Gucci has led this movement. It’s hardly an overstatement to say the company is revolutionizing contemporary fashion and beauty standards. With Gucci’s eccentric façade, the company’s clothing is continuously pushing the boundaries of what we should celebrate in modern fashion—and its next step has been the most applauded.
In its newest campaign, Gucci Beauty teamed up with Photo Vogue Festival to explore unconventional beauty through their project #theguccibeautyglitch. This campaign launched on Instagram in January 2020 and was dedicated to highlighting and supporting the theme of non-stereotypical beauty and embracing the complexity and variety of all human beings.
Ellie Goldstein, an 18-year-old British model with Down syndrome, joined Gucci through Zebedee Management. This talent agency represents people who have, until now, been largely excluded in fashion, beauty, and related industries. According to their website, only 0.02 per cent of fashion and beauty campaigns feature people with disabilities—a stark contrast to the World Health Organization’s estimate that 15 per cent of the global population lives with some form of disability.
In partnership with Vogue Italia, London-based photographer David PD Hyde photographed Goldstein for Gucci’s Unconventional Beauty campaign. Hyde says the movement sought to “push the boundary of beauty” and show that “beauty is everywhere and exists in every person.”
In the photo that gained global attention, Goldstein modelled Gucci Beauty’s L’Obscur mascara. Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director, explains the concept behind the cosmetic item.
“I designed L’Obscur mascara for an authentic person who uses makeup to tell their story of freedom, in their own way. We called it L’Obscur because this word balances charm and mystery.”
For Goldstein, her story of freedom involves being a positive role model and encouraging others to express themselves. In an interview with British Vogue, she says, “Representation is very important to me, to let the world see that anyone can model and act with a disability.”
In July 2020, after the L’Obscur promotion with Goldstein launched, Gucci Beauty has received more than 100,000 likes on Instagram and thousands of comments praising their casting decision. It’s the fashion label’s most-liked post on the platform.
Since the post, Vogue and Gucci have continued their inclusivity campaigns, quelling any notion of tokenism or forced diversity. Instead, the companies are ignoring the “normal” that other brands continue to emphasize. Now, Goldstein is the sweet face of Gucci’s Unconventional Beauty campaign, making her the first model with Down syndrome to pose for the luxury brand. The young model is making strides in the fashion world, doing so with authenticity, advocating not just for tolerance but acceptance of the disabled community.
“It feels so amazing and fabulous to be part of the Gucci Beauty campaign. I feel so proud of myself. All the likes and comments on social media across the world have been overwhelming,” Goldstein said in an interview with British Vogue.
“My hope as a model is to become famous one day, showing the world who I am and what I can achieve. If you follow your hopes and dreams, you can achieve anything.”