A Japanese model with Down syndrome made a guest appearance at Paris Fashion Week on Saturday, making her dream come true as she walked down the runway in a glamorous kimono-inspired dress.

Nao Saito, known by her stage name Nao, walked in the show of international designer Samina Mughal, clad in a red gown tied with a gold "obi" sash. The dress was made by a Japanese company hoping to share Japan's culture with the world.

"It was fun. I was nervous," the 19-year-old from Shizuoka Prefecture in central Japan said after taking to the catwalk at the world's leading fashion event. She also said her next dream is to "appear in a show in the United States."

Her mother, Yumi Saito, who has supported her daughter along the way, teared up when she saw her on stage.

Nao walks down the runway as a guest model during Paris Fashion Week on March 2, 2024, in Paris. (Kyodo)

"I didn't think it was a dream that could be made possible," the 53-year-old said.

Nao has been modeling for five years, participating in events such as those related to Japan's "Tokyo Girls Collection." She has remained actively involved in the profession while attending an employment support facility for people with disabilities.

While those with Down syndrome often struggle to maintain a straight posture due to low muscle tone, the teenager has taken walking lessons and practiced intensively in the hallway of her home.

She has complications of the heart and esophagus and has undergone over 40 surgeries.

Nao would sometimes cry in the face of her rigorous training, prompting her mother to suggest that she could quit. However, she refused to give up and gradually improved, even though it takes her time to learn new things, according to her mother.

The trip to Paris began taking shape in January when Nao was invited to appear in Mughal's show through Makoto Okubo, who runs a group promoting U.N. sustainable development goals via music.

Okubo, 59, has said he wanted to showcase the power of people with disabilities to the world.

Miyabi Ikeda, the 52-year-old owner of the rental dress company that provided Nao's attire, appeared satisfied with the company's work, saying that Nao "looked very cute."

Ikeda, a Japanese dress designer known for flashy ensembles, has said the latest dress was inspired by Nao, combining the image of a French doll and the traditional Japanese "hina" doll.