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Canadian model Chantelle Winnie inspires fashion world

Canadian model Chantelle Winnie inspires fashion world

Posted by Shanelle Weir on February 17, 2015

Chantelle Winnie is taking the fashion world by storm.

The young Canadian model, who loves an English breakfast of sausage, bacon and egg, is the It girl of diversity in a world pilloried for brutal uniformity.

Diagnosed with vitiligo aged four, the same skin disorder Michael Jackson had, she overcame bullying and years of rejection to achieve her dream of becoming an international model.

Plucked from obscurity to appear on "America's Next Top Model" and chosen last year as the face of Barcelona label Desigual, she loves every second of her whirlwind, "amazing" life punctuated by lots of sleep and her mother's breakfasts in Toronto.

The 20-year-old has crossed dreams off to-do lists, but the biggie remains: gracing the cover of fashion bible American "Vogue," whose steely editor in chief Anna Wintour she has not met. Yet.

Bubbly and prone to loud guffaws of laughter, Winnie projects a girly exterior that belies a cast-iron determination.

She has become a spokeswoman for vitiligo, which causes white patches to appear across the body and affects up to two million Americans, and has learned to be proud of who she is.

"I could more label myself as even a spokeswoman for happiness!" she tells AFP in a New York hotel overlooking a gritty, wintry skyline of Manhattan.

But it has not been an easy journey to the catwalk for Desigual on Thursday, the first day of fall/autumn 2015 New York Fashion Week.

Brought up by a single mother hairdresser, she flew regularly to see her father who comes from Jamaica and has a house in Atlanta.

"We lived on our own for a very long time and those are my happiest years, me and my mom," she said.

But she was badly bullied at school and as a teenager was rejected by every modelling agency in Toronto.

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