Izzy Camilleri’s fascinating Fashion Follows Form exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto features striking and innovative fashion for people who use wheelchairs. You may have seen her designs – if you’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada you might recognize the red fur coat worn by Meryl Streep. Yes indeed, Izzy Camilleri designed this iconic coat, which is also on display in this exhibition.
About Izzy Camilleri
Izzy Camilleri is one of Canada’s foremost and most celebrated fashion designers. For 30 years, Camillieri designed custom clothing for an international clientele, crafted gorgeous collections featured in fashion magazines from Vogue to InStyle, and dressed film industry A-listers like Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Mark Wahlberg, David Bowie, Daniel Radcliffe and Meryl Streep. But a turning point in Camilleri’s illustrious fashion career came in 2004, when a well-known journalist – who happens to use a wheelchair – contacted the designer and asked her to create some fashionable, functional clothing. Inspired, Camilleri accepted the challenge…and IZ Adaptive was born.
One of my favourite pieces at Fashion Follows Form is this closely-fitted leather jacket, which demonstrates Camilleri’s suberb craftmanship. It has two separate pieces, which allow the wearer to be easily dressed with minimal movement. The zipper joins the two pieces in the upper back and the jacket is cut away at the wearer’s back, which leans against the back of the chair. The side has a zippered slit that can be opened to insert and conceal the chest strap attached to the wheelchair.
This studded jacket is very fashion forward. Don’t you think it is fabulous?
Most fashion is designed for an “I” shape modeling the silhouette of people who stand. Camilleri’s designs fill important yet often overlooked niches – the needs of the “L” shaped body – the silhouette of people who mostly sit. You might not have considered the different sartorial needs of different body types, but if you stop to think about your own experience with clothes, you might recall times when your hem was not long enough or your pants tugged down when you sat.
This water repellent trench coat is made for the seated form. It is designed for someone who is unable to stand up to still be able to put on her coat.
What sets Camilleri’s clothes apart is a flattering aesthetic that adorns individuals in wheelchairs in a streamlined way.
The well-captioned displays helped me understand how the clothes are adapted to the seated body. The body of this wedding dress is cut to eliminate bunching at the front. The hemline of the dress and the jacket are adjusted for sitting. The jacket doesn’t look right for the standing figure, but sits very well on the “L” frame.
Izzy Camillieri is making super-comfortable, groundbreaking fashions, available to people in wheelchairs around the world. I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of thought put into each garment. I highly encourage you to check out this one-of-a-kind exhibit at the ROM. It is a great learning experience!
Fashion Follows Form continues to January 25, 2015 at the Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queens Park, Toronto.