The bionic model has a “mini-me.”
This month marked Rebekah Marine‘s third season walking in New York Fashion Week. But the model, born without a right forearm, says this time around was extra special because of one, little person: Gianna Schiavone.
The 6-year-old, born without her left forearm, made her NYFW debut on Monday at the FTL Moda show, walking the runway, hand-in-hand with 28-year-old Marine.
“Gianna’s my mini-me. She looks like me and she was also born the same way I was,” Marine tells PEOPLE. “Walking with her meant the world to me. It’s almost symbolic of passing the torch to future generations.”
The two modeled Josefa Da Silva gowns, and struck similar poses as the crowd erupted in applause. Schiavone says holding hands with Marine was her favorite part of the show.
“It was fun because she put her hand out and we got to hold hands and at the finale I got to go up and pose and then she got to take me down,” Schiavone says to PEOPLE, sporting a wide grin.
Marine says the two met through the Lucky Fin Project, a non-profit aimed at supporting those with upper limb differences.
“Gianna and I instantly bonded over our love for fashion and everything lip gloss,” Marine says.
“I’ve been trying to push the boundaries in the fashion industry, hoping that I can open doors for people like Gianna in the future,” Marine says. “It was really cool to incorporate her in the show.”
And walking with Marine was special for Schiavone too.
“It’s fun because we both have the same thing in common,” the young model says. “Walking with her makes me feel happy because there’s not just one me in the world.”After the show, Schiavone and Marine headed to a nearby diner, along with Schiavone’s family and Marine’s entourage. There, the two spent the rest of the evening eating and laughing with each other.
Marine says that little Schiavone is a “force to be reckoned with.” She adds that she hopes the little girl doesn’t forget about her when she’s famous.
“I hope Gianna will keep inspiring people of all ages – especially younger kids – to celebrate their uniqueness,” Marine says. “And always remember to layer that lip gloss!”