Is it too big a stretch to merge the conversation of mental health and recovery with fashion? Not really. Meet Alexandra Nyman, the founder of New York City based design house LadyCat. Her premiere collection was a line called Therapy inspired by her brother’s struggle with Bi-polar Disorder.
LadyCat and her mission are now going on to spearhead a show in NYFW called Break Free. It is being described as an immersive runway experience of art, design and fashion dedicated to raising awareness around two very pressing social issues: Mental Health and Addiction. Nyman is bringing this conversation to the runway and she is excited to be sharing it with five other extraordinary designers: Zephyr, Jacqueline City Apparel, Love Disorder, Wu-Sah, and Adorn Your Clothes.
Nyman recalled that when her show Therapy was featured in 2019, she was confronted with her own lurking mental health struggles. The silver lining was that the models and influencers involved in the Therapy showcase began to open up about their struggles with mental health. This was when Nyman realized it was necessary to keep showing up for others in this way.
This sewed the seed that would become the Break Free NYFW showcase, a show that would feature designers and models with a personal connection to mental health and sobriety. Nyman began reaching out to many different designers to showcase for the event. Through her work with Soberocity she began hosting monthly, virtual panels on a wide variety of topics ranging from mental health in the fashion industry to how to be a thought leader in your own local community. She described the process of diving in and talking with people in the industry with lived experience and how impactful it all was. Essentially, this has become the DNA of her brand.
For the upcoming Break Free showcase, Nyman said, “thirty percent of my collection will be for plus-sized models ranging from sizes ten to eighteen” She wants to showcase real people wearing fabulous clothing, and she wants to bring awareness to real-life struggles. The dichotomy is eye-opening and exciting. The Break Free will also serve as an awareness campaign as attendees will listen to the participants discuss their experiences about mental health and addiction.
A portion of the proceeds for this showcase will go to the nonprofit organization, 10,000 Beds, which was founded in 2014 by Jean Krisle. Jean has worked diligently and outside of the recovery community to develop long-standing relationships with corporate partners, event sponsors, individual donors, and leaders across the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.
Like Nyman’s first showcase, Therapy, Break Free has garnered the support of many influencers. Returning to the runway is YouTuber Gabi DeMartino, as well as Gabby Fe. And stepping onto the runway in support of this showcase is breast cancer survivor Christine Handy, disabilities activist and real catwalk model Janira Obregon, and sober model Jenn Ancelin.
Break Free NYFW will be held on Monday, February 14th at 7pm ET at Ideal Glass Studios located at 9 West 8th Street in the West Village, and is sponsored by the Recovery Centers of America.