We had a full page spread in the Toronto Star today!! This article does a great job capturing our role in the collaboration we did with Amy Palmiero-Winters and VAWK at this years World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto . So cool working along side such talented and hardworking people like Amy and Sunny Fong! Ready the article below or click here:
Designer Sunny Fong Showcases Alleles Design Studio during VAWK fall-winter 2014 collections
Written by: Graham Slaughter
It wasn’t her edgy dress with triangular cut-outs that stole the crowd’s breath, but an ornate patterned black frame covering her prosthetic leg.
As she hit the end of the runway, applause.
“It definitely had the effect it was meant to,” said Palmiero-Winters, 41, who lost her left leg in a motorcycle accident in 1994.
The black custom-made prosthetic cover has captured fascination since its debut in VAWK’s Fall/Winter 2014 collection on Monday, the first day of Toronto’s World Mastercard Fashion Week.
Fashion maven Jeanne Beker called the piece “artsy” and lauded the example of runway diversity, and bloggers are gushing over the Middle-Eastern inspired design. Some recall the late Alexander McQueen, known for his shocking runway stunts, who once sent a model with two wooden legs down the runway.
But shock value had nothing to do with including an amputee in the show, says VAWK designer Sunny Fong. He was looking to showcase the work of Alleles Design Studio, a Medicine Hat-based company formed last October that is bringing a couture twist to prosthetic design.
Company’s designers, Ryan Palibroda, 33, and McCauley Wanner, 28, met Fong during Toronto’s recent RBC Emerging Designer Competition, where Fong was a judge.
“The designs were intricate and beautiful. It was the combination of form and function that caught my attention,” Fong said.
The Alleles design is groundbreaking. Rather than hide a high-tech prosthetic leg behind a flesh-toned silicone cover, it highlights it. The plastic frames clip overtop a prosthetic and have a series of holes — shaped like flowers or geometric art — that showcase the machinery beneath.
They’re also inexpensive, selling for between $350 and $700, significantly less than some lifelike covers that can cost thousands of dollars.
After the Emerging Designer Competition, Fong proposed they work together on a design for his upcoming collection.
“We had a super short timeline, just two and a half weeks before fashion week. We said let’s just make this happen,” Palibroda said.
Palibroda and Wanner had previously worked with Paralympians to design custom prosthetic covers. One of the more popular designs, “The Sochi,” adorned with Canadian flags and Russian flowers, was worn in Russia by snowboarder Michelle Salt.
But this was their first fashion show. They knew the newspapers would come calling after their design went down the runway, and they wanted it to be perfect.
Fong sent the designers an image of what he wanted: a VAWK monogram that fit within his line’s roots in Muslim art. The couple used a computer program to design the leg in 3D before etching it into a black plastic frame.
The trickiest part was finding a model.
“It’s tough enough finding a fashion model, and another thing when you’re looking for someone whose an amputee fashion model,” Palibroda said.
They came across marathon runner and motivational speaker Palmiero-Winters, who helps run a prosthetic-making facility in Rhode Island. Prosthetist Erik Schaffer designed a new black leg to perfectly match the design.
Palmiero-Winters said casting her in the show helps break down the fashion industry’s idea of perfect beauty.
“I can’t say enough how proud I am of Sunny. He’s got the guts to show diversity. Most people won’t do that,” said Palmiero-Winters.
The best part of walking at fashion week happened before she ever hit the runway, at home with her 8-year-old daughter looking through pictures from VAWK’s old shows Palmiero-Winters said.
“She looked at me and said, ‘You’re gonna be the strong model,’ ” Palmiero-Winters recalled.