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PHOTOS: B.C. teen model shines on Paris runway

Fashion-week experience one of true inclusion: mom

A South Surrey teen who walked the runway during Paris Fashion Week had all the right moves during her brief few seconds of fame, giving the red JJChloé_official gown and feathered @chrisanthicouture_ headpiece she was decked out in some well-deserved flair on the international stage.

But ask the 15-year-old today – just weeks after her return – if she’s still riding high from the experience, and her response may come as a surprise.

“People ask her about it, she covers her face” …(says) ‘it’s kind of embarrassing,’” Annika Van Vliet’s mom, Lisa, chuckled Thursday (Oct. 26).

For Lisa, the reaction is nothing new. It’s how her daughter has always rolled when it comes to the modelling career the teen stepped into about a year ago.

READ MORE: South Surrey teen model set for Paris runway

Represented by Kello Inclusive – an Edmonton-based “disability-focused talent and media company” – Annika has given television interviews, posed for numerous photo shoots and walked fashion-week runways in both Vancouver and Toronto since being discovered during a Glam-Z gala in June 2022.

In September, she was larger than life in the Big Apple, when an image of her was part of a jumbotron video presentation in New York’s Times Square to launch the 2023 Buddy Walk, an annual event to raise awareness for Down syndrome in the U.S.

Shy in her day-to-day life, it’s clear Annika transforms in front of the camera (@annika.jillian), leaving all her inhibitions behind-the-scenes to revel in the limelight. Once a shoot wraps up, however, the experience is “out of sight out of mind.”

“The minute she’s done, it’s over,” said Lisa. “People are blown away by the difference.”

In Paris, Annika walked for La Belle magazine. She trained for months to master the precise moves that would be expected of her overseas, then hopped a plane with her mom for the Sept. 25-Oct. 2 affair.

The pair took in a few of France’s well-known sites ahead of her Oct. 1 debut, including the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

Her time on the runway in the Le Bristol Paris hotel lasted all of 22 seconds, and true to form, Annika’s “alter ego” took over for the duration.

Lisa described the experience as one of “true inclusion,” one where Annika’s Down syndrome did not define her.

“She was just one of the models – just blended in, did her own thing. And that’s what we like to see,” her mom said.

“The minute she stands out, she’s not included.”

Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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