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Model and acid attack victim Reshma Quereshi, left, and actress Sunny Leone pose for photos backstage after modelling for the Archana Kochhar collection during Fashion Week in New York, Thursday, 8 September 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Acid Attack Survivor Reshma Qureshi Makes Strong Impact at NYFW

A powerful message has been sent out to the world with Reshma Qureshi’s powerful walk on the ramp at NYFW.

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Most fashion shows have beautiful clothes on display. But not many have an important social message behind them, and fewer still have a powerful spokeswoman walking the runway.

Thursday’s show by Indian designer Archana Kochhar had all three. Its very first model, Reshma Quereshi, is an acid attack survivor in India; she walked the runway to send a message of courage and empowerment to other victims of such attacks in her country.

“This walk was important to me because there are so many girls like me who have braved acid attacks, and this will give them courage,” Quereshi said in an interview, speaking through a translator. “And it will also go out to prove that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – you should look at everyone though the same eyes.”

Quereshi had suffered severe burn injuries on her face at the age of 17 in an acid attack in 2014 by several male assailants. She lost her left eye, and her face was deeply scarred.

She said on Thursday that she was thrilled to participate in the runway show; she wore a long ivory dress embellished with colourful embroidery in pink, red, green and other hues, and a sparkly tiara in her hair.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that something like this would happen to me,” Quereshi said, adding, “and that I would be coming to such a big place to walk on such a big stage.”

The collection, called “A Tale of Two Cities,” was “inspired by the breathtaking Taj Mahal and the rich, buoyant colours of magnificent India,” according to the designer. The prints evoked not only the Taj Mahal but the also the lotus flower and royal elephants. Silhouettes included bell-bottom trousers, crop tops, capes, and jumpsuits. To offset the colourful embroidery there was a lot of ivory – evoking the ivory marble of the Taj Mahal.

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