Fashion Follows Form: Designs for Sitting | Level 4

  • This leather jacket is styled to fit closely when seated. Its two separate pieces allow the wearer to be easily dressed with minimal movement. It is joined at the upper back and then cut away where the client leans against the back of the wheelchair. Zippers from cuffs to elbow make it easy to open, put on, and close. Its front zipper is double-ended for comfort. The jacket is lined with 100% organic cotton knit that is warmer than a traditional, cool woven rayon lining. The side has a zippered slit that ca
    Separating Leather Jacket. IZ Adaptive Clothing. Photo by Adrienne Mountain
  • This water repellent trench coat is made for a seated frame. It was the first coat pattern created for IZ Adaptive enabling a person, who uses a wheelchair and is unable to stand up, to put on their coat. The pattern is drafted in an L-shape following the line of the body while seated.
    Seated Trench Coat. June 2009 - IZ Adaptive Clothing. Photo by Chris Chapman
  • The paisley printed dress (left) with lamb leather detail in its waist and cuff areas is made from purple, red, and gold leather pieced together to create its design. Separate hand-beaded yoke is pulled from the colours in the paisley print. Boot covers, made from lamb leather, have the same detailed design seen in dress. The dress on the right is made from metal chain, linked together in the body by an elasticized thread, giving the garment some stretch. The dress is secured with a crotched edge made from
    Paisley Dress with Leather Detail and Beaded Yoke (left)/Chain Dress and Leather Glove (right). Fall 2006 - IZ Adaptive Clothing. Photo by Chris Chapman
  • This pretty evening cape favours style over movement and is cut to accommodate the fashionable bustle.  It is cut so close that the wearer’s arms and elbows had to remain at her sides. It was made by Russell & Allen, a “recommendable” company known for its elite formal and court fashions. Today the high fashion shop, Prada, occupies the same premises at 18 Old Bond Street, London.
    Evening Shoulder Cape by Russell & Allen. c. 1887, Silk faille, English, 939.49.1. Gift of Ethel Ida Blackford Sparling and Fannie Rand Blackford Patterson.
  • This beautifully tailored habit, made from fine wool has a matching pair of fitted trousers that were never intended to be seen. The perfectly fitted waistcoat with contrasting velvet collar is padded and boned for warmth and fit. The snug jacket is lined with cotton for comfort. The complicated sidesaddle skirt wraps and drapes elegantly around the lower body when standing. It is opened up when in the saddle and cut with curved seams to accommodate the knees and buttocks.
    Jacket, waistcoat, and skirt of four-piece riding habit. Late 1870s, Wool and velvet, Canadian, 925.38.19.A-C. Gift of Dorothy Buhler

Open June 21, 2014 to January 25, 2015
Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume, Level 4

Fashion Follows Form: Designs for Sitting is an exhibition that invites visitors to think critically about the relationship between function and fashion in our daily lives. The history of western fashion is a sequence of changing shapes that often favours form over function and comfort. IZAdaptive (2009-present), by Canadian designer Izzy Camilleri, is a revolutionary line of fashionable and functional clothing for the growing demographic of men and women who use wheelchairs. The exhibit contextualizes these innovative garments within Camilleri’s oeuvre and historical 18th-19th century fashions also designed for a seated, L-shaped frame.

Fashion Follows Winning Form

The ROM’s Fashion Follows Form exhibition has won The Richard Martin Exhibition Award by unanimous decision. One of the jurors referred to the exhibition theme as one of “social justice and human rights.”  The exhibition’s text was also recognized as beautifully written and respectful of the audience.

Izzy Camilleri
Fashion Designer
Alexandra Palmer
Senior Curator

Honorary Exhibition Chairs

Jeanne Beker
TV personality, columnist
Barbara Turnbull
Activist, journalist

Exhibition Contributors

Maayan Ziv
Luke Anderson
Joel Dembe
Carolyn Pioro
Joanne Smith



Common Thread, by Bell Local Toronto

Additional Canadian Resources:

Additional International Resources:

Exhibition Patron                                            Media Partner

ELIZABETH TORY                                     


Centennial Government Partners

OntarioOCAF: Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund



Comment by Marion Seamone

Have been waiting a long time to see fashion for chair to keep the cost at a level that chair users can afford. Thank you soooo much.

Comment by Alexandra Palme...

The great thing is IZ Adaptive is affordable - see the line's website. It is truly accessible design - to put on, to wear and to purchase.

Comment by Alexandra Palme...

The great thing is this line as accessble - to put on, to wear AND to afford

Comment by patsy short

I saw this on the internet and was inspired by the dedication of Issy Camilleri to the disabled and the commitment of Alex Palmer to tell this story and link it with riding fashions and fashion history. I showed my husband, who has lymphedema in one arm, and he was very taken with it. He can't fit any of his clothes now, and remarked that no longer being able to wear his Italian suit was just one more door slammed in his face. This is a really innovative event and I wish I could attend (I live in Australia)! Congratulations to the ROM!