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Fashion Design with Psoriasis in Mind

Fashion student Stacy Longo makes it personal with her Addressing Psoriasis™ creation

By Amy Stork

Designing with Psoriasis in Mind: Stacy LongoStacy Longo didn't know a thing about psoriasis before being chosen as a designer for the Addressing Psoriasis™ fashion show, but she took on the challenge with a philosophy that should serve her well wherever her career path leads.

"I think it's important, when you design, to think about what everyday people look like and what goes on in their lives," she says. "I can only imagine how frustrating (psoriasis) can be."

Longo, a 20-year-old from Long Island, N.Y., is one of eight students from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York selected to design outfits for the eight winners of the Addressing Psoriasis contest, which featured the winners in a New York fashion show in early September. Throughout the summer, Longo worked with winner Saskia Shuman to create an outfit that would express Shuman's personal style without irritating her psoriasis plaques, which often form on her back and neck.

The design process started with a phone chat about Shuman's fashion favorites, including her affection for black and her appreciation for the styles of the 1950s. Since they were both in New York, the two met several times. Between fittings they corresponded via e-mail, instant messaging and text messages.

Longo's final design incorporated the high waist and tight silhouette of a mid-century dress, updated with fabrics that meet the special needs of a woman with psoriasis.

"Saskia said she had always loved open-backed shirts but she didn't want to expose her psoriasis. So we used a burn-out cotton fabric on the back—a weave that you can see through in certain areas but not all the way through."

"I loved my outfit," said Shuman. "Stacy was great at listening to how psoriasis might impact my style, and she was very conscientious about designing something beautiful but functional."

The contest is over, but the young women expect to keep in touch. Both will graduate in 2010, Longo from FIT and Shuman from her graduate program in public health. Shuman says the outfit Longo designed will definitely take the stage again next spring—when she throws herself a combined graduation and 25th birthday party.


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