Dainty, complex stitching, the precise hanging of fabric, wielding sharp scissors - all things that are necessary in the world of fashion design and tailoring. You might think that for a blind and partially sighted person, access to this world would be nigh impossible. But this young member of the sight loss community has done just that.
This inspiring person is graduate fashion designer Bianca Von Stempel. Bianca, from South West London, has three sight loss conditions and is registered blind. But that hasn’t stopped her from studying fashion, and creating exquisite garments that are deeply personal to her.
For her graduate show, Bianca displayed a collection inspired by Braille. The fabric is covered in raised indentations that spell out a message in Braille: a quote by American author Helen Keller. The quote reads:
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
Bianca’s colour scheme is pale and ethereal, with a fairy-like, deconstructed edge to it that is emphasized by her love of fabrics such as chiffon, organza and silk. Her reasons for using these fabrics and colours are linked to her level of vision - as she can only see a limited colour scheme of pale pastel hues, which shimmer in and out of focus, so this is replicated in her work.
Another aspect of Bianca’s conditions that has influenced her collection is that she does not have central vision, and her visibility is restricted to about an inch away. This means that each item of clothing is hand-stitched, the result being that each garment takes a very long time to put together. Bianca estimates that it takes about 80 hours to make one piece.
For the show, it meant that the clothes took on a vintage, couture and very unique look.