Trinity graduate and disability activist Sinéad Burke received an advocacy award at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards last night, which are hosted during Milan Fashion Week. Burke was presented with a Leader’s Award by Gucci’s Chief Executive Marco Bizzarri which recognized her advocacy for inclusion in all areas of design.
The second annual awards event celebrates sustainable fashion, and has attracted a high profile in its short timespan. Among this year’s presenters were Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, and Cindy Crawford.
Burke, who has Achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, remarked: “It is not lost on me that they chose the tallest man in fashion to give this award.” Accepting the award, she reflected on her early love of fashion and the numerous obstacles she had to overcome in her journey. “Growing up I felt left out. Fashion shapes culture and transforms the world around us”.
Addressing the Italian fashion industry directly, Burke asked: “What can you do to use your power, position and privilege to make this beautiful and exclusive space more inclusive for those, like me, who spend decades dreaming of a moment like this?” Her challenge was met with applause. Among those who praised Burke was Cate Blanchett, who called it “an incredible speech”.
Burke admitted to feeling nervous before the event but said that “accepting that award on the stage of La Scala realistically represented a decade of dreaming”.
In August, Burke was named as a new Contributing Editor to British Vogue, six months after her speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos which gained international attention. She was the Ireland’s only female delegate at the Forum. In her Vogue first article as Contributing Editor, “Why I Chose To Embrace My Differences”, Burke outlined the reasons why she refuses to change herself to meet others’ expectations
Burke’s PhD in Trinity focuses on researching the voice of the child within the school environment. She holds a Bachelor’s of Education from the Marino Institute of Education.