Royal Designers for Industry: Helen Storey
As we previously reported, last night (November 27, 2014) Prof. Helen Storey were honored RDI for pushing the boundaries of fashion and design and making challenging scientific concepts accessible to the public.
'For many years I have instinctively felt that our progress relies upon taking the right kinds of risks through purposeful collision and experimentation in between the disciplines. The aptitudes that designers need nowadays have had to change, in order for us to flourish and respond to our rapidly shifting world. My work has often been therefore, hard to categorise, my practice demands a hybrid response to what I feel the world is asking of us - so it has been an absolute joy to find that my work has been recognised by the Royal Society of Arts and all that it stands for, not just for me, but for everyone who follows their intuition, beyond trend and towards the betterment of us all.'
Professor Helen Storey MBE studied fashion design and achieved critical acclaim in the industry for many years before changing the focus of her career to explore new creative challenges within the field of science.
Having worked with Valentino in Rome, she returned to London and in 1986 launched her eponymous label.
Her collections were noted for questioning traditional notions of glamour, she created boas made from rags and evening gowns made from plastic refuse-bags and printed with corporate logos.
In 1991, Helen Storey won Most Innovative Designer of the Year for fashion and was nominated for British Designer of the Year.
For over three decades Helen Storey has been producing inspirational and exciting works in the public realm, as well as in academic and corporate spheres. Drawn into the world of scientific research her first project in collaboration with her sister Dr Kate Storey, funded by the Wellcome Trust, resulted in Primitive Streak - a collection of 27 dresses that take the viewer through the first 1,000 hours of human life.
Helen has created several science inspired projects since, including Wonderland (nominated for a Design Museum Design award) and Catalytic Clothing with co-collaborator Professor Tony Ryan OBE (University of Sheffield) with whom she has been working with for the past 10 years - breaking down boundaries between art, fashion and science. Both Wonderland and Catalytic Clothing use the seductive power of fashion to draw in viewers and engage them in a dialogue about complex scientific concepts which tackle some of the world's most pressing environmental problems. It is testament to the enduring qualities of her award-winning projects that they continue to attract new audiences. Since its launch in 1997 Primitive Streak alone has been seen in 7 countries by over 7 million people.
Helen seeks to instigate new ideas and suggest solutions to global problems on the environment, the fashion industry and what it means to be human in a rapidly changing world, by producing work that is both accessible and directly beneficial to the world we live in. They illustrate how she uses her talents as a fashion designer and artist to make challenging concepts comprehensible to a broad audience. She has an unrivalled ability to bring people together, both designers and non-designers alike, to explore radically new territories in adventurous and thought provoking ways.
Catalytic Clothing offers a real solution to soaring levels of debilitating air pollution by using the surface of own clothing to purify air simply by harnessing existing technology in a new way through the laundry process. Currently with experts at the world's leading producer of domestic consumer products - Catalytic Clothing has the power to tackle air pollution in our lifetimes. Travelling exhibition, 'Field of Jeans'; jeans imbued with the properties of Cat Clo technology, have popped up all over the UK purifying the air around them from the Thomas Tallis School in London to the Winter Garden in Sheffield.
Projects such as these give us an insight into the motivation that led her away from the cycle of creating bi-annual fashion collections and towards a more purposeful use of her skills and expertise to promote creative exploration and educational enquiry.
As well as receiving an MBE for services to the Arts in June 2009, she holds numerous Honorary Doctorates and Professorships. In 2013 she was appointed to the Science Museum Advisory board for Culture, and is currently a Senior Research Fellow and Professor of Fashion and Science at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion University of the Arts London.
Below you can watch a short film which features highlights from Helen's career:
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