The First Model With Deafblindness on Catwalk In History Of Fashion
The collection “I See” by designer Elvira Shipitsina empowers anyone to Speak, Be Seen and Be Heard and is a tribute to the burning power of love. Starring Mireia Mendoza Bonnin, the first model with deafblindness on the runway in the history of fashion, the event was held on the opening of Milan Fashion Week by Event SAVO. The show featured designs by Esh by esh knitted sweaters.
ABOUT THE BRAND
Esh by esh is a luxury knitwear brand created by designer Elvira Shipitsina, incorporating natural high-quality yarn blends.
Elvira started creating clothing items from childhood. Her mother sewed professionally and the fashion sketches inspired Elvira as a young girl to pick up scissors and needles to create something for herself. Later, as a young lady, she completed training in professional knitting techniques and equipment. Elvira has a background in psychology, which is one more reason why you feel so good in Esh by esh knitwear. She applies color psychology in every item and knit.
Esh by esh project – “That Red Sweater” – was founded to support people with deafblindness by donating the proceeds to various deafblind organisations. It turned knitwear into a philosophy of never-ending thread of love knitted into the canvas of life that we all share.
SPEAK. BE SEEN. BE HEARD.
This is the official statement of “I see” Esh by esh collection, presented at the opening of Milan Fashion Week by Event SAVO. It is a call to anyone to hear and see the problems of other people and make the first step simply saying “Can I help you?”
It is a call to anyone to hear and see the problems of other people
This is an encouragement to everyone, with or without vision or hearing impairments, to have a voice in society, to be noticed and understood. “Let help be in fashion” summarizes Elvira Shipitsina, designer and creator of Esh by esh fashion label.
“I see” is what people say when they understand you. “I see” is what a person with deafblindness can claim, too, as one doesn’t only see with one’s eyes, but can also see with one’s heart.
THE COLORS OF THE COLLECTION
One of the main colors of the collection is red. Because when you think of love, you think of the color red. Because no matter what the color of your skin, hair or outfit, no matter whether you are deafblind or capable of seeing and hearing – there is red blood flowing within you.
Because red is the color that makes you stop and realize something. Because red is one of the last colors a person with diminishing vision sees.
Because red is the first color you started to see after you were born. Because red has been associated with help and safety throughout the times — from Red Cross, Red List to red traffic lights when you cross the street.
Because the cane of a person with deafblindness also has red stripes, too. It’s red, because we know no other way to make the world a better place and make you recognize how great it is that you can actually SEE THIS.
“Esh by esh brand was born in a rather cold climate in Latvia and what we noticed is that with the winter approaching, the urban landscapes become black and gray, with the leaves falling from the trees and people adapting to nature, wearing darker clothes, making the world look visually dull. So we thought that aside from making people warm at this time of the year, we should also make them able to brighten up the world with the apparel they wear! To be able to give a call to action, joy and love to those, who see them” – shares Elvira Shipitsina, the creator and designer behind the “I see” collection.
“Love is the greatest gift you can give to yourself” – says Elvira – “when working on the collection I suddenly understood that the person who brings joy every year to people is also wearing.. red! Anyone can become his own Santa, wear red and become the ambassador of our social fashion project.”
Love is the greatest gift you can give to yourself, says Elvira
IS LOVE ADDED TO THE RED LIST?
“We want love, help and compassion never get into the Red List, never extinct from our daily life, never become a rare species of human expression” – says Elvira Shipitsina, creator and designer of Esh by esh knitwear brand. Elvira believes that in the world of tehnolization and overall turbulence love is what keeps the world go round, while fashion and art are two crucial contributors to stop aggression and fight hatred.
DEAFBLINDESS: IS SILENCE GOLDEN?
The presented collection “I see” is rich with more symbols that it may seem from the first glance. Slight golden accents so represent the superior value of love. “Nothing can be of bigger value than love” – says Elvira -“we know a proverb saying that silence is golden, but in the case of community of people with deafblindness silence as ignorance is killing. If a person with deafblindness receives proper care, support and education he can live a full life. I know a person with deafblindness, Sergey, that received a doctor degree, participated actively in international conferences and made a big contribution to science; and a girl with deafblindness, Alyona, that became an actress and travelled the world with a beautiful performance about the world of the deafblindess, she also learned how to skate and lives a very active and social life. But, unfortunately, in most cases people with deafblindness do not receive the care they need because, in the first place, the scarce government support received by the entities that work for people with deafblindness and their families. On the other hand, in many cases deafblindness is not identified, it is often confused with other conditions. Not being recognized, people with deafblindness do not receive the resources or support they need to develop their full potential and live a full and happy life.
According to statistics there are millions of people with deafblindness around the world, but if we count the ones that are registered in official deafblind organizations, there are zeroes missing from that number. Families don’t know where they can find help and resources because of the profound social ignorance on deafblindness.
We believe that a person with deafblindness should have voice in the society, be heard, be seen and speak. To say this we have added golden elements to our designs, to say that silence is not golden in the case of the deafblindness and that love is of biggest value”.
Every design of the sweaters presented in “I see” collection is telling a story, with knitted in symbols in every little detail. First of all, Esh by esh knitwear requires a lot of handmade work – from handmade stitching to manual knitting techniques and handmade embroidery. And hands are what connect people with deafblindness with the world. Tactile Sign language, manual alphabet, writing words on each others’ palms, Brielle keyword, a supporting hand of an intervener – the world for a person with deafblindness is in his palm. Embroidered eye brooches symbolize vision, red lips of the models revert to the ability to speak, embroidered floral earwarmers make us think about the ability to listen, embroidered flowers make us understand that care and love make a person bloom, the soft cashmere touch of the knitwear make a contrast to the endless strength and power a person may have inside. And this is not only about the deafblindness, it’s about you, me, and everyone.
Mireia Mendoza Bonnin, the first model with deafblindness on the runway of the Fashion Week was born deaf on Mallorca island. After being operated, she has a cochlear implant and has partial ability to hear and see, though she knows that she is losing her vision day by day and once she will wake up being totally blind. Retinitis pigmentosa is the disease that today medicine has no cure for yet. To live knowing that you can lose sight and hearing at any time is a very hard psychological burden. “The truth is that I am brave and happy, because life is worth to live it, despite all the difficulties” – says Mireia. Here is her life story she told us:
“I was born deaf. Being 3 years old, I started not to see well in the evenings due to an illness called Retinitis pigmentosa. Deafness and loss of vision is what they call Usher syndrome. In my case Usher syndrome type 1, because I also have my balance affected. Being a a little girl I hadn’t realize it yet.. I remember how at the age of 4 my mother woke me up very early in the morning to bring me to the public hospital to have a cochlear implant – I was scared, as I didn’t understand why. Before my surgery, my grandparents came to visit me and my father took pictures of me. After the operation I woke up and I felt uncomfortable about the operation, but I was happy. I was the first one to get operated in Mallorca. After a few days, I was given a cochlear implant and I was scared, but happy to be able to hear, learn to speak and do many other things. I went to speech therapist until I was 20 years old.At the age of 8 I stayed for a sleepover with my brother at my aunt’s house. That night I was not feeling well and I was very thirsty. I called my aunt to bring me some water all the time. The next day when I was back home my aunt called my mother and told what happened to me that night – my mother called health center to find out what to do and the doctor told us to go to the public hospital, where they took the analysis from me. The doctor told my I had diabetes. When they told this to me and I did not know what it is. The nurses punctured me with glucose and insulins. Being back home my parents explained to me what diabetes is and taught me how to use insulin – from than on I did it on my own and I felt happy. When I was 24, my partner once asked me what my eye disease was called and I did not know anything about it, because my parents never explained it to me. My partner and I looked for the information on Retinitis pigmentosa and he gave me a reason why he wanted me to go to the public doctor. I went to ophthalmologist to get a check up and this is how I became a member of ONCE and Balearic association pro people with deafblindness (ABASOC) – for this I want to thank my partner, who supported me a lot. The truth is that I am brave and happy, because life is worth to live it, despite all the difficulties”
When working on the concept of the collection we understood that we shouldn’t do it on our own to show how great it is when people join together. So we collaborated with TOOCHE handcrafted shoe and accessory brand that created for us a limited edition collection in its own workshop in Riga from such unique materials, as wool felt, ,tweed fabric and pineapple and fish leather. TOOCHE values self-expression of people and acceptance of their real nature. Through their bright designs, they give people an opportunity to connect with their true self and make bold statements, to be bright and to be you.
Both Esh by esh sweaters and TOOCHE shoes stand for absolute comfort without a compromise to femininity. “You should feel comfortable with who you are, no matter who you are – a person with deafblindness or capable of seeing and hearing. Our collection of ultimately comfortable knitwear and footwear is the symbol of this comfort around yourself and around others” – says Elvira Shipitsina.
We wanted to go even further proving that doing things together is what makes it powerful, so we cooperated with another fashion label from Riga – No Name Atelier that created beautiful sewn trousers for our collection. We are convinced that in fashion “collaboration” should fully substitute “competition”, that’s what we call “com-laboration”.
It was also important for us to show that love has no boarders and make our project really international. Coming from Latvia, we also cooperated with an artist from Russia Ksenia Rogova who created a collection of fantastic fashion illustrations that call people to Speak, Be Seen and Be Heard. Mixing handpaint and digital techniques Ksenia creates art that is meant to have a social contribution to the society. Currently we are working on our new project that features Ksenia’s artworks on accessories that will be sold worldwide and raise funds for support of the community of people with deafblindness.
Finally, we would like to thank Balearic association pro people with deafblindness (ABASOC) for making the project even more international, for their support in finding the model and helping her to get prepared to be the first model with deafblindness on the runway within a project realized by Latvian brands, Russian artist, Italian Fashion Week and Spanish deafblind community.