Baby with Down Syndrome Lands Major Fashion Campaign

08/01/2012 at 03:00 PM ET

Valentina Guerrero
Brian Smith

The first time fashion scout Monica Hillman laid eyes on little Valentina Guerrero, she knew she’d found a beauty.

“Her eyes and her smile,” says Hillman, “touched my heart.”

Discovered by Hillman, a scout for Spanish fashion designer Dolores Cortés, Valentina — featured in PEOPLE this week — is considered the first child model with Down syndrome to land a campaign with a noteworthy fashion designer.

As the face of DC Kids, Cortés’s children’s swimwear line, 10-month-old Valentina made her runway debut July 20 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim 2013 in Miami.

“The crowd went nuts!” her mom Cecilia Elizalde, a Miami-based TV host, tells PEOPLE of the response to Valentina, who was carried out by Cortés at the end of the show.

Though Valentina isn’t the first child with Down syndrome to model — others have been in ads for Target, Nordstrom and Toys”R”Us — with her new campaign, she’s one of the most high-profile.

“We’re definitely seeing a rise [in models with special needs],” says agent Fabiola Osorio, whose agency FFT represents another child model with Down’s.

These days it’s become more “important to companies to show different faces,” she adds of efforts within the retail and fashion industries to promote more diversity in their ad spaces.

That Valentina’s helping lead the way with that couldn’t make her parents any prouder.

“Life is so amazing with her,” says Elizalde.

For more on adorable Valentina, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Valentina Guerrero
Brian Smith

–Rachel Goldstein and Kristen Mascia

FILED UNDER: Little Ones , Models
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Showing 136 comments

Kim on

I could just squeeze her! What a sweet pea!

joanne1965 on

It is about time…she is the epitome of adorable…happy happy little girl…this is truly a step in the right direction!

Teacher Maggie on

I am sure I will get lambasted in the comments section for being too politically correct but could we please say “Baby with Down Syndrome” instead? She is a person way before she is someone with a disability.

ashley on

stunning! she is gorgeous! can’t wait to see all the new baby clothes and the pics in People’s magazine.

diana l blevins on

Oh my goodness! She is just precious!

Carla on

Have you ever seen a bigger happier smile?!?!?!?!

Val on

What a precious baby doll!

Laura on

Such a cutie!!

Lisa on

Beautiful child!!

Lindsey on

Great article and she is soooo cute! Just wish the title had people-first language like the rest of the article. Baby with Down Syndrome Land Major Fashion Campaign sounds so much better to me!

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