It’s September 2022. Fendi is showing Spring/Summer 2023 ready-to-wear. The space is industrial, cement floors cross-hatched by bubblegum pink and purple steel beams; remixed ‘90s hits are washing over the waiting crowd. Backstage, Kim Jones is no doubt buzzing with the energy of fashion week, and on the runway, this energy is telegraphed by dayglo green accents popping between the beige, moss, and tans worn by the models. We’re seeing combat boots, wide belts, rib knits, peekaboo bags, structured jackets, wide-legged pants, and platforms. Lots of platforms. 

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Grace Valentine’s platforms are precipitous, five maybe six inches high. Unlike many of the other models whose dayglo is tempered by Fendi’s signature neutrals, Valentine is a full spotlight of green: soft green mini that hits above the knees (velour or mohair or something in between?), and green platforms. Valentine is midway across the room when they stop, remove their shoes, take them in hand, and continue walking. 

The internet goes wild. 

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Was the moment planned? Had Valentine acted out of turn; was it an Alek Wek statement? Was this commentary on the wearability of so-called ready-to-wear collections, and womenswear, generally? 

It wouldn’t take long for the event to be rewritten as a mistake by a rabid game of internet telephone. “The model who took their shoes off” became the “model who fell on the runway.” A mistake, a joke, a gaffe, and one that, for many models, would add an indelible mark to a career. Many models, but not Valentine. 

Valentine, whose pronouns are they/them, wasn’t embarrassed. They were uncomfortable, and unable to walk, so they removed their shoes. Their matter-of-fact confidence followed them right out of the room. 

Though the moment they took their shoes off still holds high billing in the collective memory of recent fashion shows, Valentine’s name, and fame, is quickly overtaking it; see their face on wheatpastes across Europe, above KITH Soho, in NYC; they’ve walked for Louis Vuitton, Valentino, sacai, Ralph Lauren, and Dior. 

And this September, we put them on the cover of Highsnobiety. Read the full story to learn how Valentine adds style to grace. 

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