Walking your very first runway show is a daunting task on its own, but imagine said show also happens to be one of the most anticipated collections of the entire fashion month. That’s precisely what Heather Diamond Strongarm pulled off during New York Fashion Week back in February: The 18-year-old Indigenous model dominated her first catwalk by walking for Proenza Schouler, one of the hardest-to-get tickets in town. “It was an amazing experience that I’ll remember forever,” says Strongarm, who went on to walk other major shows this season, including for Christian Dior, Versace, and Bottega Veneta.
Strongarm, who is Saulteaux-Cree, hails from Fishing Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada. (She currently splits her time between home and New York City.) Despite having a breakout season this month, Strongarm says she didn’t always dream about being a model. “Growing up, I had always wanted to become a social worker,” Strongarm says. “I’m still very interested in pursuing social work in the future, but, for now, I’m going to focus on my newfound modeling career.”
She recalls first becoming interested in fashion during high school. “I started noticing the runway shows from incredible fashion houses like Chanel, Dior, and Versace,” she says. “I then decided I would like to try and get into modeling.”
It didn’t take long for modeling agents to take notice of her. Strongarm was first discovered in 2021 by her mother agency, ANM Management, when she was just 16 (she is now also signed with the Society Management in New York). “They found me through an Indigenous model workshop in Calgary, Alberta, where my photos were sent to them,” Strongarm says. A few meetings and test shoots later, Strongarm made her fashion month debut this season in Manhattan. Proenza Schouler booked her for her very first gig, creating a snowball effect that made many other brands soon come knocking too. “The team and designers were so kind,” Strongarm says, “and I’ll forever be thankful for them letting me walk in their show—it was a dream come true.”
After walking for labels like Altuzarra in New York, Strongarm made her way to Europe to model the new Bottega Veneta, Hermès, and Schiaparelli collections as well. She even had the honor of opening for Christian Dior. For the model, it was her first time navigating such a chaotic fashion calendar, and she says it was a major learning curve. “Navigating my way through Europe with my busy schedule was, at times, very stressful, but I managed to get through it all,” Strongarm says. Her key takeaway? Time management is everything. “I would mostly panic about not making it to the next casting or fittings on time,” she says. “But I learned to just relax and that everything will work out in the end.”