Given that he was in a pretty bad car accident at the age of 20, Leonardo is now in a wheelchair and thus his preferences (as they relate to his style) have changed, but not to the extent anticipated. Leonardo has not had his confidence taken from him and would like to continue to express himself in a very bold, colorful manner.
Leonardo's Experience with the Project
Why are you interested in this opportunity? (How did you hear about it? What excited you about the experience?)
My friend Maisoon Sahouria referred me to the professor. I gladly accepted the invitation because I want to help promote disability in all aspects of life, especially where disability awareness not only meets minimum requirements such as fit and comfort but also makes it cool to even those without disabilities. Decades ago I met a disability fashionista at The Abilities Expo L.A. who was received with excitement and warmth simply for designing a line of clothes as adaptive fashion. I also recall a book I read in 2011 called “Design Meets Disability” in which the author uses the example of glasses in how designers should think of disability as being interesting and cool as well as solving a disability function.
Briefly describe your disability and what accessibility needs you may have to participate in this project.
I have a spinal cord injury (SCI) so I ride in a manual wheelchair 24/7. My accessibility needs do not affect virtual meetings.
Having SCI means clothes can bunch up around the waist and get caught up in my wheelchair tires. Sometimes shirts that are too long get into my tires and tear, or worse, cause me to lunge forward almost falling out of my chair. Pants are hard to put on and often tear at the belt loops and pockets for the awkward angle to reach into to grab my wallet.
How would you like the apparel design students to help you celebrate your disability?
The students were fantastic! I told them I would love to have higher trim on shirt/blazers above the waist that you see in famed movie roles such as Professor X’s Patrick Stewart. My main concern was avoiding too much fabric at the waist where clothes get caught in the tires. The students listened, valued my opinion, and totally made me feel comfortable through the process even though I was super hyper and excited. They listened to my needs and my desires attentively and were not weirded out by all my enthusiasm. Unbeknownst to them, I felt empowered and mostly hopeful that fashion will continue to evolve and will soon achieve truly universal design where people of all abilities are not just included in fashion design but totally unique and empowered!
Design Team: Marea Flaherty and Keana Pukahi
Marea Describes Their Designs for Leonardo
My name is Marea Flaherty, I am a second year apparel design student who is working to create an adaptive apparel garment for our model, Leonardo Camargo. After interviewing and discussing design ideas with Leonardo, my partner and I decided to design a utility style jacket that would be practical for everyday wear but something that can also be dressed up and worn in a professional setting. We plan on designing the jacket to be cropped to eliminate bagginess near the wheels of his wheelchair, larger pockets on the bust for storage, and a front zipper to allow for easy wear. He expressed that he prefers darker colors and fun prints so we settled on a dark navy and a tough waxed canvas for durability of the fabric. As a design student my aim has been to create unique but practical apparel for the consumer. With this project my goal for the adaptive apparel was to make something that is not only practical but also stylish. This utility/work jacket is going to be a timeless piece that will not go out of style and be high quality with long lasting wear.
Marea's Mood Board
Marea's Designs for Leonardo
Keana Describing the Design for Leonardo
This project was definitely an amazing learning experience as my partner & I worked with our Model, Leonardo Camargo. He explained that he takes his inspiration from the classic gentlemen look/style which consists of blazers, coats, sweaters, and polos. I took into consideration of his personal style by creating a cropped utility jacket so that the length doesn’t interfere with the wheels on his wheelchair and four pockets in the front for easy access to store things such as a wallet and keys. From these minor changes, a garment will be created that is visually pleasing, yet comfortable for Leonardo to enjoy.
Keana's Mood Board
Keana's Designs for Leonardo
Design Team: N'Kosi Bohannon and Karina Saekow
N'Kosi Describes The Teams Designs for Leonardo
Working with Leonardo to come up with both a moodboard and set of designs has been an eye opening, inspirational experience. Karina, Leonardo, and I all met on “Zoom” and discussed a number of things ranging from his hobbies to the unique intricacies of his personal style. Given that he was in a pretty bad car accident at the age of 20, Leonardo is now in a wheelchair and thus his preferences (as they relate to his style) have changed, but not to the extent that I anticipated. I was obviously unsure of what to expect, but pleasantly surprised to hear that he (Leonardo) has not had his confidence taken from him and would like to continue to express himself in a very bold, colorful manner. As for the design choices that relate to his disability in particular, he simply asked that we create designs that accentuate his bold personality while making accommodations to the lengths of each piece to prevent ruffling or bunching while in his chair. Lastly, Leonardo is a very outgoing and delightful person and, for that reason, we found ourselves going “off topic,” talking to one another about our hobbies, personal life, and ultimately making this project feel like more than another graded assignment. It is for that reason, then, that both Karina and I are very excited to create something special for a very special person.