I “met” Barbara Beccio on Instagram, during lockdown. She told me about her skirts and her story behind the unique pattern designs she had for her clients with disabilities. We had one of the most lively Lives I’ve ever had, due to some wi-fi issues that day (click here to watch the live with her) but… we made it and we’ve been in touch since then.
She spent the first 3 months of Covid, putting in long days and weeks just managing volunteers, making up kits for them and sew masks and caps. Over 1000 masks were given to essential workers, the elderly, as well as prison inmates and nurses who also received almost 400 caps for which Barbara made a pattern that would work to fit on a laser cutter bed size.
Her Cv is as exciting and colorful as her patterns!
Today, during the NYFW, her new one-of-a-kind skirts collection is going online on Patti+Ricky.com, the biggest adaptive fashion marketplace for kids and adults in the US.
Please meet innovative and caring Barbara Beccio!
WHO IS BARBARA BECCIO?
I am an Adaptive Clothing Designer based in Richmond, CA, with a focus on clothing specifically for people in wheelchairs.
WHAT DOES FASHION MEAN TO YOU?
Fashion in clothing for me, means wearing garments that make you feel good and are comfortable. Fashion does not necessarily need to be following the current fashions, but combining and wearing items that make a person feel strong, confident, comfortable, unique, and beautiful.
YOU ARE THE FOUNDER OF è Ispirante - CREATIVE ADAPTIVE CLOTHING AND THE MIND AND HEAD BEHIND THE ONE-OF-A-KIND SKIRTS FOR SEATED BODY TYPES: HOW DID THIS ALL START?
The idea for è Ispirante began about 5 years ago when I was hired to make a corset for a woman who had polio as a child, and must wear a corset every day. When I saw the corset she wanted me to copy, my first reaction was:
“How unattractive is it!?!”.
I thought that, if this is something that she has to wear every day, why not make it look nice as well as functional! After perfecting the fit, I then added lace, that was securely stitched down to avoid catching, trimmed the edges and covered the boning tape with a floral print.
How did it end? I made a second one in various batik fabrics!!!
At the same time that I was working on the corset, I began making skirts for my friend’s daughter Sara, who had Cerebral Palsy. Sara was a Fashionista and wanted to wear fun clothing like her classmates. It was problematic to lift Sara in and out of the wheelchair in full skirts, and smooth the fabric so she was not sitting on layers of fabric, which otherwise would cause pressure sores.
I began to make skirts for Sara that did not have a back.
Both my friend and her daughter loved the skirts as they were easy to take on an off using my design features, and were made with fun fabrics as well as sparkly fabrics!
I can say è Ispirante was born then!
WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES YOUR SKIRTS SO EXTRAORDINARY?
Since my Skirt Designs are focused on people in wheelchairs, the shape of the skirt takes the shape of a seated figure.
For the Kids Skirts, there is no back.
These skirts resembeled a 3/4 Apron, with the sides tucking into the side of the wheelchair. By wearing leggings, running shorts, or skinny jeans, the kid can easily be put in his/her wheelchair and taken out. Once in the wheelchair, the skirt could then be put around his/her, fastening in the side back with velcro, reversing the process to take his/her out of the wheelchair.
For the Adult Skirts, the back is flat to avoid pressure sores, and is shaped to a seated figure.
Here are some special features: the size of the pockets; lowering the waistline in front and removing excess fabric that occurs when seated; an elasticized, higher waistline in the back; longer back hem that becomes equal when seated; larger zippers with zipper pulls; magnetic snaps, and the garments made with a combination of patterns and colors.
YOU SOLD OUT TO ZAPPOS AND YOU ARE LAUNCHING A NEW LINE ON PATTI+RICKY TODAY: CAN YOU TELL US MORE?
I have sold all my recent inventory to Zappos just before Covid hit.
Given that manufacturing and businesses have been closed down due to Covid, I thought, now would be a good time to try something a little different.
It has been a very trying time being in quarantine, so I wanted to do something businsess-wise that would cheer me up.
I love combining multiple patterns and colors in one garment and thought that I would make some special garments to offer, while businesses wait to reopen here in the US.
As a result, my One-of-a-Kind Skirts are now available on Patti+Ricky!
This is something special, for sale, for which I am keeping the price consistent with other manufactured skirts that I have designed in order to be workable for people dealing with the changes of income due to Covid.
I am using the One-of-a-Kind designs as a jumping off point for designs that I will put into production, with different fabric combinations and construction methods, when manufacturing and businesses resume.
Now on Patti+Ricky the customer that purchases these One-of-a-Kind designs will have a truly unique garment, that only they will own with a free matching mask.
I don’t want to profit from the masks that I make. It is my way of helping during this challenging time.
When Covid began in the US, all businesses and manufacturing were closed down, and the need for masks and caps became urgent. I was asked to help sew them for nurses and other essential workers.
I put out an email to my students, and also on the local news, postings to help sew and before I knew it, I had 25-30 volunteers. I made a pattern and instructions that were avalaible online, thanks to a volunteer with computer skills.
I am happy help and contribute in keeping others safe.
YOU HAVE DESIGNED PRICESS DIANA DOLL GOWNS AND YOU ARE WORKING ON A JACKET FOR LACHI, NY SINGER AND DISABILITY ACTIVIST: CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR INCREDIBLE STORY?
I hold an MFA in Costume and Lighting Design for Theater from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and worked in Theater for 16 years.
As I was edging out of Theater Design, I became interested to design Doll Clothing. I designed and constructed many fashions for the Gene doll, produced by Ashton-Drake Galleries, as well as many gowns for their Princess Diana doll. There were also many other designs that I did for Ashton-Drake Galleries, as well as many other doll companies.
I have also made One-of-a-Kind Dolls, from constructing and sculpting the body and face, to making the entire garment and all accessories.
In addition, I have also constructed Bears for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids that were auctioned off for Aids Research and treatment: Designers and Costume construction professionals take Bears donated by Vermont Bear Company and dress them as Broadway characters.
My first Bear was “Rafiki” (2000) from the Lion King. It was used for the cover of the PlayBill for the event, and sold for $5,250.00: you can see it now in the Museum of the City of NY.
The second Bear that I made was the “Ugly Witch” from the Broadway stage production of “Into the Woods”, played by Bernadette Peters, in 2001. It was sold for $8,500.00.
And yes, this whole story brought me to Lachi ‘s jacket: since she lives in NYC, and it would be difficult to pattern and construct a complete garment from draping/patterning, I had her send me some photos of jackets that she could purchase, and we picked one out. She also sent me inspirational photos so I could get a sense of what she would like it to be its final style. I had her approve (and love!) some collar sketches and sleeve samples I made for her soon-to-be-repurposed jacket.
Of about 20 different fabric prints I have in my atelier, she picked her two favorite: the exact two that I had chosen to use together for my first Adult One-of-a-Kind Skirt!
I knew we shared a good sense of pattern and color and am looking forward for the jacket to be finished and show you all!
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO THE FASHION INDUSTRY?
I think – no, I know – that the fashion industry needs to offer more creative and visually interesting Adaptive and Inclusive clothing. Adaptive/Inclusive design has grown wonderfully in the past 5 years, with more designers and companies paying attention to this need: but more can be done. Adaptive and Inclusive Design not only is necessary for the garments, but to representation as well. Covers, and the internal photos on the pages of Fashion Magazines should show not only the standard accepted notion of “beauty”, but the beauty of the individual by breaking the pre-conceived notion of it.
Once those molds are broken, it will begin to make it possible for people to see beauty in everyone: I love what Samanta Bullock is doing about this, with her Magazine Cover Challenge!
I want to continue to design more Adaptive/Inclusive garments, extending the tops and jackets styles to be worn both by people with other disabilities and able-bodied people. I would also like to develop Mens/Boys lines. I have many designs and ideas in my head for Men and Boys. Although the catagories in clothing now are regulated as Women’s, Girl’s, Men’s, and Boy’s, I would like to see the lines between gender dressing, overlap and not be specific for one gender or another. Given this idea, I have begun to name my garments with non-gender specific names.
People will eventually accept this, but it has to start somewhere! I remember defending one of my boy sewing students, when one of the girls in the class was giving him a hard time because he was making a skirt for himself. I let her know that it is not uncommon for men to wear skirts and dresses, and that Alexander McQueen has skirts for men in his line, Kanye West wore a skirt in some of his performances and photo shoots, and what about those Scottish men in kilts?
She, and some of the other girls in the class, never bothered the boy student again and accepted it as nothing out of the ordinary.
Education is vital!
Learn more about éIspirante collections here:
Now online here: https://www.pattiandricky.com/kids-skirts-for-wheelchair-users