On Saturday I attended the 8th Annual Women's Tea for the BC Paraplegic Association.  Strike a Pose featured up and coming designer Teri Thorson, as well as a fashion show by Nicole Bridger and Body Politic.  This event gives women living with a physical disability in BC the opportunity to share experiences, have a little bit of girly fun and see the latest fashions.   All the fashion were modeled by women with physical disabilities such as paraplegia and spina bifida. 

Designer Profile - Teri Thorson

Women with disabilities have unique needs when it comes to fashion.  This is especially true for those in wheelchairs.  Clothing needs to be practical to allow for their daily needs - breathable and gentle fabrics, easy to get on and off, and fit their figures.   They should also make their wearer look and feel good.   

Designer Teri Thorson feels that many women in chairs often feel restricted to "wearing sneakers and trackies".    Teri started her own line of clothing to help women with disabilities rediscover their femininity and celebrate their sexuality.

Teri Thorson is a local paralympic athlete, who started work on her  custom fit line about 5 years ago.  As a quadriplegic, she designed her line of clothing to her ability level, with options to customize for those with more or less abilities.  Her pants are designed for those sit in chairs, with shorter front in-seams and longer  back.  The legs are skinnier.   Many of the closures are velcro to make them easier to open and close.  Slits/zippers can be put into the backs of skirts to allow for catheters.  Fabrics are comfortable and feminine. 

Teri's dream is a full range of fully customized and affordable clothing (including wedding dresses and swim suits) offered online.   Women would be able to enter their measurements, chose the details that work for them and order everything from the comfort of their own home.   By Teri's own admission it has been a slow start.  She can't draw or sew her own designs. And it took time to find the right team to work with her.  Then she got pregnant, and 9 months of morning sickness and a year focused on raising her son, put her line on hold.  She is now moving forward with her dream.  Her designs shown by her models are proto-types.  

Click photos for slide show....

Fashion Show and Tea

The event was a fun afternoon with all attendees having an opportunity for mini-makeovers, with hair  (Simone Hair Studio), nails (BM Chan International Cosmetology College) and make-up, as well as glamour shots (Paul Oostergo).  The event was hosted by Jeremy Szafron, the new host of FMA Weekly (airing March 6th on KVOS).    The volunteer models were coached and coordinated down the cat walk by the very funny actor Johnson Phan.  Nicole Bridger and Body Politic sponsored the fashion show,  illustrating how eco-friendly fashion can be worn by women of all abilities. Accessories were donated by Wise and Proper.  Model's hair was done by Toni & Guy.

As each woman came down the runway, Jeremy read out a few fun details about her.   As I was trying to take photos I wasn't able to take notes.  But I remember that one model said her biography would be called.  "The Answer is chocolate. No matter the Question."  A woman after my own heart. (Update - the organizers sent me their notes and I've updated the info on each model in the photos below)

The amateur quality Photos are clearly all mine.  The Roundhouse is a fantastic venue.  But my little flash struggled with the strong back lit stage.  Photo shop helped a bit.  But I will admit to flash and lense envy of the other photographers in attendance.

About BCPA

Since 1957, the BC Paraplegic Association (BCPA) has been a vital link to the community and to successful independent living for thousands of people with spinal cord injuries.  There are over 5,000 people living in BC with a permanent spinal cord injury and over 400,000 British Columbians have some form of disability that affects their mobility.  The BCPA helps people with spinal cord injuries achieve goals, regain independence and move forward with their lives - improving the quality of life of all British Columbians.

Full Disclosure - Since it is easy to find out my past work experience with just a click on my LinkedIn profile.   I may as well disclose here that I previously worked at the Rick Hansen Foundation.   Through that position I became familiar with the challenges facing people with disabilities everyday.  I share Rick's goal for an accessible and inclusive Canada.  The opportunity for all women to  feel stylish and pretty is just one step towards that goal.