Student with vision impairment showcases graduate collection at London Fashion Week

Post date: 
Monday, 21 March 2016
Bianca Von Stempel

A university fashion student with vision impairment recently showcased part of her womenswear collection at London Fashion Week.

Bianca Von Stempel, who is 23 and registered blind, won the opportunity after being selected as a finalist in the Fashion Awareness Design competition.
Bianca has no central vision and can only see some colours and clouded shapes with her right eye. Using her heightened sense of touch, Bianca’s technique mainly involves designing on a mannequin and stitching material together by hand.
“My style is very feminine and asymmetrical – because I can’t see much with my right eye I always concentrate the detail on the left side of my garments.”
Bianca created her latest collection using mottled fabrics and nude colours to create a blurred effect that represents how she sees the world.
Principal lecturer in fashion at Kingston University, Andrew Ibi, said working with Bianca helped sharpen his tools as an educator.

“My role has been to help empower someone who’s visually impaired to take ownership of their work. This has meant deconstructing some of the design processes and coming up with solutions that work for Bianca. We’ve had to re-write some of the usual rules – but that’s what designers have been doing for years.”

Bianca works closely with two technical support students who help with visual tasks like pattern cutting, as well as assisting with some of the more intricate computer design work.
“When I come across problems, Bonnie, Grace and I work out how to resolve them. To help me with sewing, I now use two threads – one cream, one bright pink so I can see it. I pull the pink one out once the garment is finished,” Bianca explained.
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