When people say, “Fashion is for everyone,”, they forget to mention people with disabilities. That reason is why Haven, the Cornell Women’s Resource Center and Student Assembly put together an exhibition to see what fashion is like through the eyes of individuals with disabilities. The exhibition took place at the Jill Stuart Gallery by Cornell.
Fashion should be an industry where it includes apparel that is inclusive, accessible, and personalized. Though many designers are definitely on board with that mindset, there are still many people in society that do not have an understanding of what should be morally right, which means that clothing should be fun for everyone and should also be modeled that way.
The exhibit included personalized messages written on mirrors so models could see their own look and the role they play in fashion’s disability awareness.
The event organizer Jordan Berger came up with the exhibition to display her love for disability right advocacy and fashion. To be able to merge the two showed everyone how fashion can still be an exciting adventure for people with disabilities. Berger wanted to do it in the hopes that it will attract attention to disabled individuals and show that building a ramp for wheelchairs is not exactly the only step in the right direction.
Designers Stern and Molly Kestenbaum understood the lack of awareness about disability so they went forth to launch a collection of functional and trendy clothing that still grasped the fashion trends in the present day. They went around asking people what they thought about fashion and how they can create garments that fit well with people with disabilities. This, in turn, got people excited to see the creation.
The project was set out of inspiration for the 1960’s aesthetic and the Kestenbaum’s own experiences with hearing devices. The event is happening not just for disability awareness but also for conversations emerge for people who are not as comfortable talking about disability and now have the chance to open up. Nicole Agaronnik, a disability rights activist was excited to combine fashion into the exhibit to make people want to come if they enjoy seeing new ideas in the fashion industry.
Disability is a variation of the human condition and not something abnormal, which is what the event was going to signify. It is very important for people with disabilities to be publicly part of the fashion community.
One of the models wore a dress with a skater skirt with an included pocket for her insulin pump. She explained that it was cool to have a skirt designed like that because it is hard to go to formal events or be out with friends when she has to have the insulin pump handy.
The event highlighted the same parts of life that both disabled and non-disabled people go through every day. We all go through the motions of trying to figure out what to wear, how to wear it, and figure out if it is going to be stylish or not. Fashion can be empowering and transformative for people, it improves confidence and makes people feel like that they can self-express through their wardrobe.
Disability is diverse and its something not everyone can relate to. It is not such a unique experience to celebrate, but the exhibit to get people acknowledged and accepting of how fashion amongst other things is not always inclusive of a range of people.
The seated mannequins that are showcased at the event are now going to be staged in the Cornell Costume and Textile Collection.
The exhibit will hopefully carry on to spread information about disabilities and disability rights.