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When a Nerve Disorder Stikes a Nerve in Fashion: Julia Wollner’s Triumph

In life we never know where our creativity will come from. Many innovative people gather their old ideas and cut-out inspirations to fuel new designs. And some people crack under this pressure of forced originality, while some push through any kind of tribulation they are faced with. Julia Wollner is one of those individuals who has not only overcome adversity during her path to success, but she has also used it as inspiration to transform her craft into a vivid display of asymmetric stratum.

prat6prat1Julia Wollner is a 22 year old who was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy in 2012, when she woke up incapable of moving the muscles on one side of her face. This occurred during Wollner’s second year as a fashion design student at Pratt Institute. Wollner victoriously fought through this illness and used the physical therapy and experience to create wearable art. Now a senior at Pratt, Wollner recently created a collection that embodies her poignant perspective.

prat2prat5prat3Wollner’s collection features multi-colored textiles accented with white trousers, skirts and jackets. She created futuristic looks and  stiffness with these materials and graphics by using line drawings of her face, which are taken from the facial exercises prescribed by Wollner’s physical therapist in order to mimic the inflexibility of her facial paralysis. She also designed a jacket for the finale that read “RELAX” on the back, which she was often reminded to do during recovery.

Wollner stated:

“Going through any type of obstacle allows you to start noticing things differently–you begin to pay attention to things you never knew about. For me, this translates into how I think as a designer.”

prat7As a result of her very personal and prominent collection, Wollner won the “Liz Claiborne Award – Concept to Product” from the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation. Her award also came with $25,000, with which Wollner plans to design a new collection.

With her story, Julia Wollner conveyed a beautiful narrative with fashion that many may be able to relate to, and without ostentation, she managed to wow us subtly with her evocation of art and triumph.

Henny Jacobs

Henny is a freelance Fashion Writer with years of experience and knowledge of fashion, art and style. Henny also has a MFA in Fashion Journalism and a BFA in Fashion Design/Marketing.

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