As an established Canadian designer, Izzy Camilleri has over 30 years of experience crafting everything from fur coats to leather dresses. While Camilleri may have once dressed stars such as Angelina Jolie and Meryl Streep, the Toronto-based design talent shifted her main focus to accessible fashion over ten years ago. Since then, she has catered to differently abled clients who are in wheelchairs, yet are still modern and sartorially conscious. Her local label, IZ Collection, features outerwear, denim, athleisure and suiting for both men and women with accessibility needs. From looser cuts and hems which are meant to accommodate those who are seated, IZ Collection is exclusively designed for wheelchair users.
Real Style recently spoke to Camilleri at the White Cashmere Collection 2016 at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Here’s what she had to say about discovering accessible fashion, working with her signature leathers and understanding the true meaning of personal style.
Real Style: You’re known for your accessible designs. What was your inspiration for pursuing this side of fashion?
Izzy: I just started to do custom work in about 2005, for someone who was a wheelchair user. I never realized how specific her needs were. I just thought that people who used wheelchairs had the same clothing needs. I didn’t realize that there were any issues. She taught me that her options were quite slim. Through her, I just started to learn how to fill up people’s wardrobes.
Real Style: What are some of your personal favourite fabrics to work with?
Izzy: I’m known for my leather work, so I actually do a lot of leather. Other than that, I kind of work with everything.
Real Style: Do you have any favourite staple pieces for Fall 2016?
Izzy: Capes are always really great. You look really polished when you have them on. Also for my customer, it’s an easy thing to throw on. We have a really great puffy bomber jacket which we’ve also turned accessible. It just looks like everyone else’s puffer, aviator style jacket. We’ve also got culottes, which are a really hot item for this fall, and a sailor inspired pant that serves our customers well.
Real Style: In your opinion, what personifies great style?
Izzy: I think style is very personal. I think that people really need to be themselves and just really relax with their style, and not try to be something that they are not. Style is just being who you want to be.
Photo 1: Izzy Camilleri
Photo 2: Caitlin Cronenberg