They were disfigured by abusive men who wanted to destroy their looks and self-confidence, but two victims of acid attacks will join models on the catwalk tomorrow in the run-up to London fashion week.

As they sashay down the runway Adele Bellis, 24, who lost an ear and was permanently scarred by her boyfriend, and Laxmi Agarwal, 26, whose face melted when she was attacked as a teenager, will defy the men who sought to destroy them. They also hope to draw attention to the plight of other women who have been less visibly scarred by male violence.

Sonal Sachdev Patel, who has organised tomorrow’s event with the British Asian Trust, said: “Fashion has been used in the past to take forward messages, but it is also focused on the external — [you have to be] slim enough, beautiful enough. We are turning that on its head.”

She runs the London-based GMSP Foundation, created by her philanthropist parents, which helps the female victims of sexual violence and trafficking whose suffering, she says, often goes unseen.

“When you meet a rape victim you can’t visually identify that person but that does not mean their scars are any less deep than that of an acid survivor,” she said.

“The problem is the silence of the victim, the perpetrator and the community.”

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