Chris by Natalie Saunders

Graduate of the London College of Fashion in collaboration with Illustrated People

When I talked to Chris about his experience, he really expressed himself in an emotional way. He described it in words, pictures and colours. What  I really understood was how he felt. Chris also told me that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. So, what I really wanted to do, was to focus on the mental side of his story, to help bring awareness to how mental health can affect your life and what living with bipolar disorder is like.

As a whole piece, the sweater is Chris’s mind. I wanted to express the fragility, beauty and chaos of the locked up mind on the front, during the dark times of when he has been deep in depression and things have felt like they were spiralling out of control. The back is clean, calm, strong and bold, which I see strongly as Chris’s soul and his core attributes. It is also how he feels when he is at peace with himself. Using Illustrated People to print the words (which is how Chris described himself) seemed like a natural choice, because they stand for freedom of expression, and believe in challenging the accepted and the energy of a thought. Chris is an inspiration and I’m very honoured to have worked with him.

Bean by Careena Gharu

Graduate of the London College of Fashion

My process began with talking to Bean, and acquiring an understanding of his story. I also got to get an insight into his personality which was a great help when constructing these garments. I have based my designs on the feelings and emotions that Bean projected on to me.

I really like the idea of deconstruct reconstruct. Creating something new and fresh from something old entices me and, it’s for a great cause!

Viv by Carla Knight

Menswear Designer at Vivienne Westwood

The process for this project was quite simple in that I met with Viv, the wonderful lady who has donated her Cargo pants for me to reincarnate, and rolled on from there. We talked about our ideas for the project and brainstormed. The following weeks we established what stories we wanted to share with the world to give a little insight of how completely ordinary and at the same time how incredibly dangerous it can be to live as a homeless person in London.

I was inspired by Viv’s time spent knitting whilst living on the streets of London, something she could sit and do to pass the time and which allowed other homeless friends of hers to take unique gifts to their children when they visited. As a result, this garment has travelled to and from work with me as I did a lot of hand work on it, and came with me to Kent, visiting various people’s houses and different parks along the way, it was nice to travel with the garment and to work on it 90% by hand, only the key seams were finished by machine. I wanted to take myself back to simple tools and limited facilities to see how I would cope, having being spoilt with all the furnishings of a fashion house for such a time. I am really pleased with the result and I hope that Viv will agree that this reborn garment is a representation of what a fantastic person Viv is and how we can create exciting things from very little when we put our time and our minds to the right purpose.

Alister by Elena Mojarova

Junior Denim Menswear Designer at Vivienne Westwood

Alister told me that what is important is that we are all human and capable of change. Wearing his denim jacket gave him hope and strength and made him remember never to give up the truth. His mantra is that no one should be without love, food and shelter. His incredible vigour for life and positivity inspired me when working on his jacket. I wanted to capture that energy and interpret how he has turned his own life around, so I have completely restructured the jacket. I removed elements that made it recognisable as a traditional jacket and made it more flamboyant with the bouffant sleeves. It has a new kind of confidence!

Peter by a leading British fashion brand that wishes to remain anonymous

Peter and I met on the 6th August, the date which commemorated the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bomb being dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, causing unprecedented devastation. From the offset, Peter had a clear visual idea of the direction that he wanted me to work – which was to create the emblem of the CND, surrounded by poppies, sitting on a bed of Chrysanthemums, the Japanese national flower. Pete told me an array of colourful stories surrounding his life – both beautiful and chilling. I wanted to create a talking point for Peter – to tell his stories, by making visual emblems, that stood out to me among the tales – each emblem marking a different point in his life, the story marked across the garments.

As a South African, I grew up with beautiful beaded objects and toys, made by the Ndebele tribe in South Africa – traditionally the women of Nguni tribes spend their motherhood expressing their artistry by painting their homes, villages and cars, and beading their hopes and dreams into their goat skin aprons, which they are presented with from their husband at marriage. Having worked a lot myself with these bold coloured patterns and beads, I thought they would translate perfectly for Pete’s own memories and thoughts. Among others, on Pete’s denim two-piece, we have icons of The Empire State Building, a chequered Washington cab, a Moon Goddess and a Chocolate Factory.

Julian by Sia Dimitriadi

Founder and Designer of Sia Dimitriadi

After speaking with Julian and finding out about his story, I felt I wanted to create something beautiful. Julian had told me he loves nature and in particular the colour red . I interpreted his story as him being a caterpillar (the old sweatshirt) transforming into a beautiful butterfly (the new top). I wanted a soft airy texture, so I used silk/chiffon, which I dyed to create the flowers. They didn’t turn out red but a very gorgeous crimson. Next step was finding the right material for the sleeves- I wanted something with volume- to resemble wings, so I chose to use silk/organza. I also ended up removing the printed logo and replacing it with a silk/organza circle- the circle of life. I then placed my silk/chiffon flowers and used crystal pearls and crystals to decorate, to give it some sparkle. I hope the top’s previous owner is impressed with the result! I am certainly proud of his transformation!

Megan by Gabriella Massey and Melissa Thompson

Co-founders of Atelier bâba

We are so honoured to have the opportunity to work with Megan, the whole project is infused with her words and ideas about a different kind of homelessness, one where you have a roof over your head but it’s not yours. Megan introduced us to kintsukuori ’to repair with gold’ with the understanding that things are more beautiful for having been broken. Denim was bleached and painted to make a canvas for Megan’s story, tears were repaired with silks and cottons stitched with gold thread. Shoes were bandaged and bound in red silk ribbons and the t-shirt re-worked from fragments with the motif ’stigma’ formed in multiple layers. Megan has a strong message of anti-violence towards sex-workers enshrined in the colour red as well as in her reflections. We will never be able to relay Megan’s story in a way that is so candid, eloquent, analytical and totally compassionate- but we are both extremely grateful for the opportunity.