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Model with rare skin condition proves imperfection is beautiful at New York Fashion Week

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A model who has embraced her rare skin condition hit the runway in spectacular style at New York Fashion Week.

Winnie Harlow, who has vitiligo, is the face of Desigual's Say Something Nice campaign and took to the runway for the Spanish brand's vibrant show last night.

The 20-year-old Canadian is making major headway in the fashion world and as well as working with Desigual she is fronting a major new campaign for Diesel:

Vitiligo leaves skin with patches that don't have any pigment. It often affects people when they hit their twenties, but Harlow was diagnosed with the condition aged four.

Despite being 5'10 with a typically 'model' figure, her dream of becoming a runway star seemed to be an impossible one when she was rejected from every modelling agency in Toronto because of having vitiligo. But Harlow didn't give up - or cover up.

Winnie Harlow

She was soon noticed by America's Next Top Model host Tyra Banks, who helped her gain a place on the high-profile show. That brought her to the attention of the designers who propelled her onto the catwalk.

"Even the top models right now have a lot of personality and I feel like that's what people are looking for, you know, something they can relate to, a real person," Harlow told AFP. "So I feel like the industry is very much opening up, widening their eyes."

It certainly seems to be heading that way. Yesterday New York Fashion Week's first model with Down syndrome took to the runway and the past few seasons have increasingly featured shows with "real women" who designers have plucked from the streets. 

There's no denying that the majority of models remain strikingly slim and statuesque but fashion's enthusiastic new acceptance of individuality is a step in the right direction.

Watch the show:

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