Renowned Toronto fashion designer makes 'adaptive' clothing for the wheelchair-bound
Dario Balca, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, July 31, 2015 10:11PM EDT
After years of designing clothes for the runway, renowned Toronto fashion designer Izzy Camilleri switched her focus to helping people in wheelchairs look their best.
Camilleri’s “IZ Adaptive” collection features clothing specifically designed to look and function best when worn while sitting in a wheelchair, unlike conventional clothes, Camilleri said, which are made to look and feel their best when standing.
Jeans in the collection, for instance, have a pitch in the back so there are no wrinkles in the front when sitting down and don’t have any back pockets to avoid pressure sores.
Jackets and coats, Camilleri said, are “cut in an ‘L’ shape” so that they don’t look folded over in a wheelchair. The collection also includes specially-made shorts, sweaters, skirts and a variety of outerwear.
Camilleri has spent most of her career designing clothing for the likes of Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep and David Bowie.
She first got the idea to create clothing for people in wheelchairs after meeting the late Toronto Star reporter Barbara Turnbull, who was paralyzed from the neck down.
When Turnbull asked for a custom cape that would work with her wheelchair, Camilleri said she realized people with disabilities were largely ignored by the fashion industry.
“I realized that clothing needed to be different for (Turnbull),” Camilleri said. “I just became so motivated to do something about it.”
Since the IZ Adaptive collection was launched six years ago, Camilleri has gained a long list of paraplegic and quadriplegic customers from around the world.
Last summer, the Royal Ontario Museum unveiled “Fashion Follows Form: Designs for Sitting,” an exhibition honouring Camilleri’s unique contribution to fashion for people with disabilities.
Camilleri said despite having had her work featured in some of the world’s most prestigious fashion shows and red carpet events, the IZ Adaptive collection has been her most rewarding project yet.
With a report from CTV’s John Vennavally-Rao