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Runcorn student’s fashion collection inspired by grandmother’s story of life with dementia

Ellie’s unique collection hits the catwalk at London Fashion Week

A budding fashion designer from Runcorn has taken inspiration from her late grandmother’s experiences of living with dementia for her latest designs.

University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) fashion design student Ellie Jane Pennington, 23, has reflected on her late grandmother’s battle with dementia through a collection of outfits produced for her final year work.

Ellie said: “My Nan, Betty Badge, was the one who got me in to sewing and interested in fashion, so I’m doing this in her honour.

“I have reflected on my experiences of memory loss and having to endure the long goodbye through my garments. My clothes are influenced by the effects of the progressive deterioration of seeing a person slowly disappear, but joined with the happy moments and memories too.”

Ellie has developed her own style of clothing to raise awareness of the disease and used materials sourced from charity shops as a way of paying tribute to the memories they may have carried.

The former Hugh Baird College pupil visited the St Catherine’s Hospice Preston superstore and utilised the ‘Buy a Bag’ offer, which allows customers to fill a large bag with garments and accessories for just £10. She then recycled these items to craft a number of outfits together into her final collection outfits.

“As half of my garments are upcycled. They hold distant memories and stories of the wearers and their families” Ellie said.

“My colour palette is pastels and other calming, soothing tones but then I’ve used clashing patterns to represent the confusion experienced by people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

As an extension to her work, Ellie set up a Just Giving page to generate donations for research into the disease. This helped her to gain a stronger insight and engage with other affected families.

The fashion designer’s work has recently been on the London catwalk at the prestigious annual Graduate Fashion Week. Ellie is set to graduate with a First Class degree with a degree in fashion design (with sandwich) next week.


Ellie Pennington

Hollie Donnelly | 12 July 2018