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Designs for sitting
July 14, 2014 4:29 PM   Subscribe

The exhibit Fashion Follows Form: Designs for Sitting, at the Royal Ontario Museum through January 25, 2015, showcases the work of designer Izzy Camilleri, whose company IZAdaptive features chic, stylish, comfortable clothing — all of it designed for seated people who use wheelchairs.

Some of the coverage of the exhibit:

Fashion, and dignity, for the mobility challenged in new ROM exhibit
On a recent afternoon at the Royal Ontario Museum, Alexandra Palmer, the ROM’s senior curator in textiles and costumes, perused her newly installed exhibition, taking note of some its particular challenges.

“We had to get custom mannequins,” she said, tut-tuttingly. “Shop mannequins sit in all kinds of ridiculous positions. They don’t sit, well, like that, do they?”

That, in this case, being the most innocuous, normal, bent-legged kind of way, which, it so happens, is also the position in which the vast majority of mobility-challenged people find themselves virtually all of their waking hours.
Canadian fashions for people in wheelchairs a focal point in new museum exhibit
To help further illuminate how the items are customized for individuals in wheelchairs, a selection of the Toronto-based designer's works are displayed in both seated and standing positions. A classic trench coat is drafted in an L-shape following the line of the body while seated, while a formal suit features added length to the back and less in the front body area to accommodate the wearer.
Exhibition — Fashion Follows Form: Designs for Sitting
What is perhaps the most surprising aspect of this exhibit is how very attractive and fashion-forward adaptive clothing can be. Designed with a seated person in mind and offering ease of access with openings at the back, these garments are not simply functional, they are chic. I wouldn’t hesitate to wear them myself, especially the stunning separating leather jacket or the denim maxi skirt.
Via blogger Dave Hingsburger, who wrote about the exhibit in this post.
posted by Lexica (10 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is cool, thanks for posting it. I particularly like the Canadian blogger link at the end. He writes,
"I don't often get to see exhibits that look at life from the point of view of having a disability. Of being seated. So that was a treat. But, more than that, I liked how the exhibit talked about the disabled body and the needs of that body in such a respectful way. I left having learned more about my own seated body and, though I don't consider fashion as part of how I express myself, I understood more about how those who do.

Leaving any exhibit thinking means it's a good exhibit."
Very true.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:43 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


The video in the first link, about reworking fashion mannequins in very different images was unexpectedly fascinating. I wish that was a normal part of fashion rather than what looked like more of a striking one-off exercise.

If I were closer I would love to see the actual exhibit.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:43 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


(Aw crud - sorry about that double-quote. Anyways it was a nice part of the blog post if we both quoted it!)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:45 PM on July 14


This is fascinating, thanks so much for posting it!
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:54 PM on July 14


Thanks for reminding me that I really want to see this. I read about it in the paper recently, got all intrigued and of course promptly forgot about it. This is why I hang out at Metafilter.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:07 PM on July 14


These clothes are gorgeous. Somehow she actually made a denim maxi skirt look glamorous.

A friend of mine who (from what I understand, anyway) has a disability similar to spina bifida always has to get her pants specially tailored, though she gets them originally off the rack from girls' departments. Her pants have some of the same stitching as I noticed on the pants included here, such as the darting on the sides of the knees. I hadn't thought that she must have needed a specialized tailor before, because the tailoring didn't seem especially intricate. But would you be able to take clothes to a neighborhood tailor to get them adapted in that way, or would that be a specialized skill?

The idea of wearing clothes in larger sizes in order to make them easier to get on and off, but looking disheveled as a result, really hit home with me. I think that wearing clothes that fit well reinforces the idea that your body is as it *should* be, and I think that by designing clothes specifically to fit bodies that aren't generally considered normative, this designer is being incredibly subversive. More power to her. She really does sound like a visionary.

And I still remember that cape from The Devil Wears Prada, even though I never even saw the movie. Gorgeous.
posted by rue72 at 11:21 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Here's a company that does adaptive clothing for kids.
posted by kinnakeet at 1:05 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


this is so interesting! I have to go see that exhibit
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:14 AM on July 15


rue72
But would you be able to take clothes to a neighborhood tailor to get them adapted in that way, or would that be a specialized skill?
Knowing how typical clothing needs to be modified is the special skill: the tailor needs the willingness to listen to what's wanted, as well as a good hand with the measuring tape, needle, pins, and cloth.

Minimizing the layers I sit on is key: every layer is another opportunity to start a pressure sore.

I've loved the cape/coats from these folks: Adaptations by Adrian. Not the tiniest bit high fashion (nor high price) but bone dry in a thunderstorm and cozy in Wisconsin winters. My below-zero weather fighter is Adrian's thick fleece topped by a leather cape I found in a "fat woman's store," Roaman's.
posted by Jesse the K at 3:38 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I just came across this: JCPenney is displaying five “real people” mannequins at its Manhattan Mall store in New York City through August.
The mannequins are modeled after:
  • Dawna Callahan, who uses a wheelchair because of paralysis;
  • Neil Duncan, a former Army paratrooper who lost parts of both legs in Afghanistan;
  • Ricardo Gil, who has dwarfism;
  • Desiree Hunter, a 6-1 1/2 basketball player;
  • and Beth Ridgeway, a plus-size mother.
An inscription on the window of the display reads in part: “At JCPenney, we are committed to fitting our customers as they are–all shapes, sizes and styles. That’s why we’re proud to display these ‘Perfect the Way They Are’ mannequins.”
posted by Lexica at 10:08 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


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