• Mon, May 5 - 9:45 am ET

Fashion Student Turns Her Bell’s Palsy Into The Best Collection You’ll See This Year

julia wollner pratt fashion design bell's palsy

Julia Wollner is a Pratt Institute senior who just presented her collection at the school’s prestigious 2014 Fashion Show, and her highly personal and strikingly beautiful collection won her the “Liz Claiborne Award – Concept to Product” from the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation. The fashion student’s collection caught my eye because of the striking silhouettes and graphics, which relate to Wollner’s personal struggle with health over the past few years. I’m crazy about her collection.

Per Fashionista,

Wollner’s collection was inspired by her two-year long struggle with Bell’s Palsy, a nerve disorder which paralyses half of the face. She channelled the emotions of that period through oversized shapes and new textiles, which Wollner experimented with herself by printing on organza and laminating over it.

Wollner purposefully created shapes that were slightly uncomfortable, mirroring her experience with Bell’s Palsy in a subtle and effective way. She also added prints on some of the garments of large, line drawings of faces, which are taken from the facial exercises prescribed by Wollner’s physical therapist. The images are striking on their own, and go perfectly with her finale coat, featuring a large RELAX down the back.

julia wollner pratt institute

There’s a lot to love about Wollner’s collection (these shots are of the collection in progress) without even knowing the back story, which adds a layer of depth beyond the human interest element. The unique lines and patterns aren’t ever over the top, and she manages to convey a ton with very little. The fact that the pieces manage to impart a personal narrative while remaining relatable and beautiful is no small feat.

Wollner’s award comes with $25,000, with which she plans to make a new line. I have high hopes for Wollner and I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re writing about her again in a few years. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Photos: Vimeo

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  • Samantha Escobar

    I love this so much.

  • Alexandra Stone

    So inspiring! It’s great to see someone turn a frustrating condition into something positive. In addition to physical therapy, Botox injections, and cutting-edge surgeries are available to help those who suffer from Bell’s palsy regain facial movement: http://www.facialparalysisinstitute.com/5/bellpalsy.html