Nottingham fashion student designs knitwear collection inspired by double lung transplant

Video: Halima has created six womenswear outfits that explore her experiences with cystic fibrosis (CF).

 A Nottingham fashion designer has created a collection inspired by a double lung transplant she underwent as a child suffering cystic fibrosis.

Student Halima Umer, from Aspley, has created six womenswear outfits that explore her experiences with cystic fibrosis, or CF, which she was diagnosed with as a baby.

The disease affects the lungs, digestive system and other areas of the body – and also means Halima, 24, is partially deaf.

Her knitted garments are embellished with striking paisley patterns, stains, bobbles and pompoms – which are actually inspired by the appearance of bacteria and scarring caused by the condition.

The knitted garments feature traditional Islamic colours to represent Halima’s Pakistani culture.

The clothes also feature traditional Islamic themes to represent Halima’s Pakistani culture.

“I wanted the collection to have a big contextual story behind it – and I wanted to pick a theme that was outside of fashion, so I decided to look into my illness,” Halima said.

“I wanted to look at how CF physically distorts the body, and the mental and emotional context it has.

“I have always said I would never regret anything about having cystic fibrosis, but I would only regret it stopping me from living my life.”

What is cycstic fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition affecting more than 10,800 people in the UK.

People are born with cystic fibrosis and it cannot be contracted in later life – but one in 25 people carry the faulty gene that causes it, usually without even knowing.

People with cystic fibrosis experience a build-up of thick sticky mucus in the lungs, digestive system and other organs, but there are a wide range of symptoms which affect the entire body.

Halima, who underwent a double lung transplant aged ten and has been well since, created original and distorted shapes by manipulating draped fabrics to present different silhouettes.

The designs feature ties looped through disordered holes to form bunching, which illustrates the physical effect the disease can have on the body.

“CF is a bacterial disease – so bacteria grows within your lungs and mucus blocks your airways,” explains Halima.

“I wanted to show that in a beautiful way and make the scars and things that happen inside of me beautiful, because I am proud of how far I have come.

“One of the main aims is to raise awareness about CF – I call it an invisible disease because not many people realise I have it, and even though it’s more common than people realise – I want people to know that it’s there,” she says.

Halima’s sketchbooks feature prints and designs inspired by cystic fibrosis, which helped her to create her knitwear collection.

Halima’s collection will go on display during a public catwalk show on May 24, as part of Nottingham Trent University’s 2017 Degree Show.

The catwalk comes ahead of a week-long public exhibition from June 3-10, featuring more than 1,200 graduating artists’ and designers’ work.

Halima says having a positive attitude has helped her to design her collection and be proud of having the condition.

“I want to show that just because I have CF it doesn’t mean I can’t do a degree and graduate,” says Halima.

“I don’t tell people I have CF, but I have found talking about it and raising awareness about it is important so that people can understand all these implications I have that stop me from doing things.

“I am proud to say that I have CF now and I think it’s important for people with CF to know that there is a life outside of it.”

One of the artworks created by Halima reads ‘I have cystic fibrosis’.

Nottingham Trent University BA fashion knitwear design course leader Ian McInnes said: “Halima has taken an experience which is personal to her and used it to create a fashion collection which changes traditional perceptions of beauty.

“Her designs are original, and combined with her personal story, deliver a powerful and inspiring message about overcoming adversity.”

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