Reshma Quereshi, a teenager living in Allahabad, India, had her face severely disfigured and her eye permanently damaged two years ago when three assailants held her down and covered her face in concentrated sulphuric acid. She was 17. The attack, it was later determined, was an act of revenge by her brother-in-law — the intended target, it turned out, had been her sister. On Thursday, Querishi, now 19, walked the runway at New York Fashion Week, showcasing clothing for two of India’s most prominent designers.
“My vision was: let’s push boundaries to include diversity in the fashion industry,” said Llaria Niccolini, the president of FTL Moda, the fashion production firm known for whom Quereshi appeared. Querishi opened for Mumbai-based designer Archana Kochar — a brand known for luxurious colorful designs — and appeared in the evening show for Vaishali Couture, a brand Niccolini named as among the most popular and influential in India.
Quereshi is the public face of Make Love Not Scars, a nonprofit that seeks to end the widespread sale of acid in India and reduce the number of acid attacks. The number of acid attacks increased 250 percent between 2012 and 2014 in India, according to Make Love Not Scars. Fashion Week Online has said there are 1,000 acid attacks reported in India every year, and that many more cases go undocumented.
Querishi, who had never left India before her appearance in New York City, is also the subject of an upcoming documentary on her life and journey. “I want to tell the world — do not see us in a weak light and see that even we can go out and do things,” said the teenager. “People have a tendency to look at acid attack survivors from one perspective and I don’t want them to look at them like that anymore.”
Watch Quereshi’s eyeliner tutorial for Make Love Not Scars below.