Pratt Student Julia Wollner's Bell's Palsy-Inspired Designs Are Absolutely Stunning

Many artists draw inspiration from the hard times in their lives to produce great work. This may not always be the case in fashion, where most collections seems to be inspired by the finer things — style icons, works of art, exotic locales. Pratt student Julia Wollner is an exception. Her graduating collection was inspired by her two-year struggle with Bell's Palsy. And it stole the show.

Pratt's 2014 Fashion Show took place last Thursday, when 21 graduating students presented their work in front of several fashion greats. Wollner's struggle with Bell's Palsy, a nerve disorder which paralyses half of the face, inspired her print-filled collection, according to Fashionista.

She channelled the emotions of that period through oversized shapes and new textiles, which Wollner experimented with herself by printing on organza and laminating over it. Of course, that made it nearly impossible to sew. "Going into it I didn't know it would be that hard, but it made the shapes that I wanted," Wollner said.

Wollner's unique shapes and whimsical prints made for a seriously fresh collection. The biggest standout was an oversized t-shirt dress with a large cartoonish face print, inspired by the facial exercises given to Wollner by her physical therapist. Although it wasn't the showiest piece in the presentation, the raw emotion and coolness factor made a real impression.

Pratt's fashion show is a yearly celebration of graduating senior accomplishments. This year, designers Stephen Burrows and Byron Lars were honored with the Lifetime Achievement and Fashion Visionary Awards, respectively, making them the first African American designers to be honored by Pratt. Other fashion hot-shots present for the presentation included Catharine Malandrino, Fern Mallis, and Stan Herman.

Wollner's brilliant collection, which turns a personal story in wearable art, won her the prestigious Liz Claiborne Award for concept and production, which comes with $25,000. She plans to use the money to design her next collection. If it's anything like the first, I truly can't wait.

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