Inside the world of Madeline Stuart, one of Australia’s most in-demand models

"Front row," posted Madeline Stuart (at the Dan Liu show in New York on September 11.)

"Front row," posted Madeline Stuart (at the Dan Liu show in New York on September 11.) Photo: Instagram

It’s 10am in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Australian model Madeline Stuart, 21, is yawning awake but, after 13 hours beauty sleep, raring to go.

Despite having just walked 18 back-to-back shows in 17 days at New York then London Fashion Week, she shouts out to her mother, Rosanne, asking about her next catwalk booking.

“I don’t have the heart to tell her we don’t have any for a little while,” Rosanne, who is also Madeline’s business manager, tells The New Daily.

That downtime won’t last long: the pair is considering postponing their return home to Brisbane because of new gigs in the UK and US. In 2019, Madeline already has jobs booked in Italy, Greece and Spain.

In the past four years, her job has taken her to locations including Russia, China, Paris, Uganda, the Ukraine, Lebanon and Jakarta.

“When we work, we do 7am until 7pm every day for weeks on end,” Rosanne says.

As her mum talks bookings, Madeline – the first professional adult model with Down syndrome – browses YouTube to watch videos of herself on the catwalk.

Social media is a big part of her brand: She has 187.9k Instagram followers and during London Fashion Week in September was trending on Twitter.

“Modelling is exciting. It makes me happy,” Madeline tells The New Daily. Her confidence and love of the industry is evident as she reflects on this season: “I wasn’t scared once”.

One of the most in-demand Australian models at New York and London Fashion Weeks, 2018 was her sixth straight year in New York, where she walked for designers including Lulu et Gigi.

At her second London outing, she was chosen for shows for Polly Morris and House of Ra. She also modelled her own label, 21 Reasons Why, which this year included watercolour jumpsuits, crop tops and high-waisted pants.

She’s so in demand that a group of designers from the Swedish School of Textiles fought over who’d get Madeline to walk in their London Fashion Week show. To keep the peace, the Queenslander agreed to walk in an extra show.

In Australia, Madeline, who decided to become a model after seeing her first catwalk show in Brisbane four years ago, struggles to get bookings.

As a result, Rosanne – who also owns a dance studio with her daughter – would “be surprised” if the pair don’t move to New York, where Madeline now gets stopped in the street by fans.

“We’ve approached Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Fashion Weeks – nothing,” Rosanne says.

“If we lived in the USA, Madeline would have work every day of the week. Australia is really behind in diversity on the catwalk, meaning talented people like Madeline and trans models have to go overseas to get work.”

Still, Madeline has just made her first major booking in her home country, headlining P&O’s Melbourne Cup Fashions at Sea cruise in November.

Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, mother and daughter are taking a few days to relax and explore. In every city she visits, Madeline goes ten pin bowling, and in New York her tradition is chicken pot pie at the Carriageway Diner opposite Vandenberg Hall.

It hosted Madeline’s first New York Fashion Week show, and was “a whirlwind”, Rosanne says. There were 1000 people packed into the hall, and they did 33 media interviews in three days with film crews from across the world.

“Everyone that night saw Madeline the way I see her.”

So they return to the diner, where Madeline always has the chicken pot pie, “to recapture that amazing feeling”.

It’s rare, however, for Madeline to eat carbs after lunch. Her usual daily meals include Cornflakes or an egg on toast for breakfast, chicken wrap every lunch time, then lean protein and vegetables for dinner.

Her fitness regimen is just as disciplined. She’s active six days a week, including six hours of personal training and four of dance. She has competed in the Special Olympics in cricket and basketball, which is where she met her boyfriend, Robbie.

They’ve been together almost five years, and speak on Facebook Messenger every other day when she works overseas.

She has two dreams: to be a Victoria’s Secret model, but also to “get married”. And while her model icons are Karlie Kloss and Halima Aden, she’d most like to meet Lady Gaga.

“She’s my oxygen. My whole world,” Rosanne says of Madeline.

“She’s everything I could possibly have hoped for. I’m so proud and so blessed to have her.”

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