Cerebral Palsy Foundation’s Design for Disability Gala


UNIVERSAL DESIGN: Design students were charged with weaving the theme of fashion and innovation into their pieces for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation’s Design for Disability Gala.

The event, scheduled for May 16, has Derek Lam serving as the evening’s official host and honorary chair.

Lam also served as mentor to students from the Fashion Institute of Technology, The New School’s Parsons School of Design and School of Visual Arts for a fashion show component to the evening.

Honorees at the gala include ABC Network’s “Speechless” for the Goldenson-Arbus Vanguard Media Award, Microsoft for the Global Empowerment Award and Nike for fashion innovation specifically for its FlyEase shoe.

“Derek’s involvement has been wonderful, both enlightening and inspiring,” said Cerebral Palsy Foundation chief executive officer Richard Ellenson. “As students have wrestled with complex functional issues, he has not only shown an appreciation for their insights as to making fashion accessible, he has been unerring in helping guide them toward the creation of cohesive and affecting collections. It’s been a treat for all of us to experience firsthand his thoughts on fabric selection, workmanship and the power of fashion.”

Lam became acquainted with the organization’s Design for Disability program through Domenico de Sole, chairman at Sotheby’s and Tom Ford and said he “instantly fell in love with the vision.”

“As a designer, I think a lot about how to marry design, style and function. How will what I design work in the life of a woman? This takes on a new meaning when you are designing for the disabilities community,” Lam said. “The work here really opened my eyes to the lack of options for so many people who are looking for the same style and comfort in their clothing as everyone else. Like so many unexpected moments, this one truly helps one embrace a perspective that one hadn’t seen and, yet, which has such value.”

Students were tasked with designing pieces that were easy to get on and off and functional, while also still being chic, all things that will be seen during the fashion show, Lam said.

“I believe supporters of this event will be inspired and delighted by the student’s work and see it for what it is: striking and engaging fashion,” he said. “This event really addresses the notion of universal design, by insisting that these designs can truly be worn by anyone and need to exist first and foremost as wonderful clothing. The designers took risks, each collection is truly different and evolves from a different inspiration.”

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