Ashley MacInnis: The Frenzied Fashionista


Canadian Designer Is Making Fashion More Accessible

Stylish, Functional Clothing Designed For Wheelchair Use

Think of how tough it is to get into some of the clothes in your closet — not because they’re too small, but because it’s just hard to do — like the zipper on the back of a dress.

Now imagine every article of clothing like the zipper on the back of a dress — the arching, the contorting, the oooooh-I’m-so-close-ing — and you can almost (but only almost) imagine how tough it can be for someone with a physical disability to get dressed.

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Now think about the way your clothes just don’t look quite right when you’re sitting down — the bunching or the pulling, the discomfort you might feel depending on the cut and any extras like zippers or buttons. The average article of clothing is not made for the seated body, and many just aren’t easy to get in and out of when your range of movement is limited.

But thanks to Canadian designer Izzy Camilleri’s IZ Adaptive line, fashion is now accessible to those living with physical disabilities. The line features on-trend pieces, tailored to the L-shaped (or seated body), and boasts affordable prices to boot.

After designing a cape for journalist Barbara Turnbull, Camilleri recognized a need for functional but fashionable pieces, and IZ Adaptive was born… after a bit of trial and error.

“It’s been very experimental,” Camilleri says. “It took years to find the common thread in terms of what worked for most people. Now, it’s become a matter of personal preference for most clients.”

In addition to being “easy to wear," the collection is nothing shy of beautiful. From floral pants to sexy moto-jackets for ladies to smart suits and dapper sweaters for men there’s something for every personal style. And have I mentioned affordable? Yup; that too.

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“I could never do custom-work as it’s just too costly and many clients are on fixed incomes,” Camilleri explains, in regards to her common-thread approach to styles. “I strive to create on-trend, quality pieces at affordable a prices. ”

No matter how you slice it, (dis)ability shouldn’t mean you can’t feel beautiful and Camilleri is making that happen every day with fun styles that perfectly marry fashion with function, and help put the person before the physical challenges they live with.

“I am so humbled by my clients,” she tells me during our phone conversation. “It’s the most inspiring work I’ve ever done, and I’m reminded every day how good the right piece of clothing can make you feel.”

Ain’t that the truth.

As if her 30-year career of dressing A-listers like Meryl Streep and Angelina Jolie wasn’t impressive enough, Camilleri has another feather to put in her oh-so-fashionable cap: her IZ Adaptive line will be showcased at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)!

Fashion Follows Form: Designs for Sitting is a new exhibition opening at the ROM on June 21, 2014 showcasing Camilleri’s innovative, fashionable, functional — and (I’ll remind you again) affordable!—designs that are among the first in the world created exclusively to meet the needs of women and men who use wheelchairs. Displayed alongside Camilleri’s designs are 18th and 19th century fashions from the ROM’s renowned collection, also created for a seated, L-shaped body. How cool is that? Seriously.

And since it’s not every day that I get to chat with internationally-acclaimed fashion designers, you know I had to ask about her take on fashion and what her favourite pieces are.

“I’m not a flashy fashion designer,” Camilleri told me. “I’ve got a great pair of Frye boots that I love, but I’m pretty low-key and I only dress up when I have to.”

Her advice for creating your own personal style?

“Stay true to you. If it doesn’t feel right or make you feel good, pass.”

You can learn more about and shop Izzy Camelleri’s IZ Adaptive line exclusively online at And this is where you want to be if you’d like more information about the exhibit at the ROM.

Now, put on *your* favourite outfit and boogie your butt to the ROM for me, would ya? #LivingInHalifaxProbs

Thanks for stopping by — I hope you’re as excited about IZ Adaptive as I am! Do you know what else I’m excited about? Glasses! Check out my tips for picking the right frames for your pretty face, or find out what brand of denim I’m absolutely crazy over! See you next time.