A smiling Reshma Quereshi, 19, opened the FTL Moda show on Thursday to applause in a long-sleeve, white gown with embroidered appliques by Indian designer Archana Kochhar during her first trip to the United States. In her hair, she wore a sparkly tiara.
The buzz and glamour of the event was a world away from Allahbad, India, where she suffered severe facial burns and lost an eye two years ago after being attacked with sulfuric acid by her estranged brother-in-law and two men at the age of 17.
At the time of the attack, Quereshi was on the way to an exam center on May 19, 2014, with her sister, who had left her husband after being subjected to abuse and torture, when he attacked her and Reshma tried to save her.
They were left to suffer in agony on roadside for several hours after nobody called an ambulance.
'This walk was important to me because there are so many girls like me who are survivors of acid attacks, and this will give them courage,' Quereshi said in an interview, speaking through a translator.
'And it will also go to show people who judge people based on their appearance that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover — you should look at everyone though the same eyes.'
'I never thought in my wildest dreams that something like this would happen to me,' Quereshi said, adding 'that I would be coming to such a big place to walk on such a big stage.'
After enduring numerous skin graft surgeries and contemplating suicide, she met the founder of Make Love Not Scars, a group that helps survivors of the gender-based crimes.
'I couldn't believe it was happening to me,' Quereshi said about the trip.
'In that moment I felt extremely happy.'