Lauren Wasser, a model who lost her leg to toxic shock syndrome in 2012, has defied the odds to appear on the New York Fashion Week catwalk.
The 28-year-old Los Angeles and New York resident was a main feature in this season’s show for Chromat on Saturday, a brand becoming increasingly well known for their inclusive fashion shows.
Lauren is best known for raising awareness around toxic shock syndrome after she was stricken down at the age of 24 with the illness after she had used a super-plus tampon while on her period – her story was subsequently told in heartbreaking detail in a profile by Vice.
Breaking down barriers: Lauren Wasser, 28, who lost her right leg to toxic shock syndrome in 2012 has made her New York Fashion Week debut for Chromat’s Fall/Winter 2016 collection show on Saturday
Tragic tale: Lauren was just 24 when she was stricken down by TSS after using a super-plus tampon
‘I was on my period and I was using super plus tampons. So I just started doing my usual routine and I just started feeling really sick,’ she told the publication in a video. ‘I got to my apartment and I just felt so hot. I just wanted everything off me immediately, and I just wanted my bed. I didn’t care about anything else.
‘So I immediately stripped off everything and got in my bed, and that’s the last thing that I remember,’ she added.
She was found 10 minutes from death by police after her concerned mother requested a wellness check after not hearing from her in a while. She was rushed to the hospital with a 107 degrees Fahrenheit fever and a heart attack and luckily was treated by an infectious disease specialist who was able to diagnose toxic shock syndrome.
TSS is most commonly caused when a woman changes tampons too infrequently – though in Lauren’s case she claims she had changed hers several times that day.
Walking the walk: Lauren modeled the brand’s signature structured lingerie and activewear with her prosthetic leg on full show
On the night: In a profile for Vice, Lauren explained how she passed out at home after feeling ill, eventually waking up in the hospital
Loss: After being put in a medically-induced coma, Lauren’s leg became infected by gangrene, eventually needing to be amputated along with the toes and heel of her right foot
Sadly, after being put in a medically-induced coma to try and improve her condition, her legs became infected with gangrene and doctors were eventually forced to amputate her right leg and remove the toes and heel from her left foot.
Following her recovery, Lauren was convinced she would never model again, but did pose for some photos for her photographer girlfriend, Jennifer Rovero sometime after and through that ‘photo therapy’ she began to gain confidence.
Along with the 2015 Vice feature, Lauren eventually launched a lawsuit against Kotex, the brand of the tampon she claims is responsible for her illness, growing her public profile even further.
Soon enough, Lauren was modelling again. She most recently starred in an active-wear campaign modeling Nike running shoes for Nordstrom in December 2015.
With her obvious talent and hard work even in the face of such struggles, it’s no surprise that Lauren caught the eye of Chromat’s Becca McCharen.
Natural beauty: The images helped Lauren regain her confidence in order to return to modelling
Stepping back in: Eventually, the jobs started coming in, including modelling Nike sneakers in a new campaign with Nordstrom (pictured)
Across the board: Chromat’s latest Fashion Week offering also included plus-size models Denise Bidot (left) and Sabina Karlsson (center) as well as transgender artist and musician Juliana Huxtable (right)
The new collection, entitled Lumina, is the designer’s latest line of caged lingerie and active wear and, as she has previously, was shown at Fashion Week with a diverse bunch of models, including plus-size models Sabina Karlsson and Denise Bidot as well as transgender icons Juliana Huxtable and Isis King alongside amputee Lauren.
‘Becca speaks to the future, so it’s easy for someone like me to believe in her because she believes in me,’ Lauren told Mic. ‘I feel honored to be apart of this brand. Plus it’s awesome to grow alongside someone.’
Commenting on her latest groundbreaking Fashion Week offering, Becca told Refinery29: ‘As fashion designers, we have the power to highlight and celebrate beauty in all different forms. For me personally, Chromat women are doing amazing things in all different fields and come from all different places.
‘We wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate those women and have these incredible women reflected in our runway show.’