THE FASHION FOLLOWS FORM EXHIBIT AT THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM

By: Tanya Debi

What a beautiful exhibit. It makes you really appreciate the little things in life. The exhibit showcases designs by Izzy Camileri’s IZ Adaptive clothing line. This line is specifically designed for wheelchair users. An interesting part of the exhibit is the wedding dress. Contrary to my own thinking, the wedding dress wasn’t any more difficult to make, then any other wedding dress. Camilleri spoke about it briefly.

“The wedding dress doesn’t take any longer to make then any other wedding dress, the dress itself is quite simple. It was just a pretty lace shrug. The thing you take into consideration is that the focus is on her torso and you don’t want anything too fussy, because it can get caught in your wheels,” Camilleri said. “The style of that dress was the same as what I had before, it wasn’t a complicated dress, other than the material, it was silk instead of a cheaper fabric.”

IZ Adaptive Bride and Groom at the Royal Ontario Museum

IZ Adaptive Bride and Groom at the Royal Ontario Museum

Another interesting element of the exhibit, was something called the Mannequal. It is a fiberglass wheelchair designed to display mannequins in order to integrate disability into fashion retailing. Sophie Morgan, a T.V. presenter, artist, campaigner and model with a disability, created it. She works for the BBC and was a presenter at the 2012 Paralympics. She became a paraplegic at 18 after crashing her car. The mannequal was first used in Debenham’s Oxford St. store window in London, England.

Mannequal by: Sophia Morgan

Mannequal by: Sophia Morgan

Along with the IZ Adaptive line, there were two other fashion lines designed by Camillari called EZ and MIZ and both were morphed out of IZ Adaptive.

“I was getting a lot of requests from people who weren’t in a chair but had arthritis, or they were having trouble doing buttons up, they needed standing clothes, not seated clothes, so I had another line called the EZ line for people who lacked dexterity in their hands or are of a mature age. Comfort is important when you are older, what happens is that when you get older, waistlines get bigger by about two inches naturally. You might be a size 8 in your hips but a size 10 in your waist,” Camilleri said. “It was strictly for function for people who had arthritis or people who had had a stroke. When I was describing this line it didn’t seem attractive, I needed to make this sexier and change it to flatter the fashionable boomer, who has these issues and still wanted to look good. The aging boomers dress a lot savvier than their parents did.”

Izzy Camilleri's MIZ line

Izzy Camilleri’s MIZ line

MIZ is quite a different story. Camilleri talks about why this line isn’t around anymore.

“I’m not doing MIZ anymore, I did it for two seasons, the problem is that with the Canadian fashion industry, it is a really small one and there isn’t a lot of retailers to sell to, there are a lot of retailers but they don’t really support Canadian. The cost of putting a collection together is really high and you have to sell a lot. In the fashion industry, every six months, you are reinventing your entire collection,” Camilleri said. “For MIZ to turn into something, it would have taken years and I didn’t have a bottomless pit of money and so I had to make a decision to put it on the back burner. It might come back, who knows. But I realized that IZ, needed me more and that this is an area that needed my undivided attention.”

A sweet treat to see was the Devil Wears Prada coat that Camilleri designed. It is a beautiful fur coat and it got into the movie accidentally.

“That coat was part of my 2005/2006 collection. I used to have a PR rep in New York, Patricia Field, and her people would go to this agency to find stuff for what [Patricia] was working on, they found the coat so that is how my coat got into that movie.”

Izzy Camilleri’s exhibit will be at the ROM until January 25, 2015.

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