Since its inception in 3000 BC Egypt, prosthetic limbs have had one job, which is to restore the normal functions of a missing body part. Major advancements in technology and robotics over the years have made prosthetic limbs more sophisticated than ever, assisting millions of people in living their lives in the best way possible.
Although style and aesthetic design has never been a big consideration for prosthetic limbs, two design studios are attempting to change that while opening up avenues for the fashion industry to develop a purpose beyond beautiful clothes.
Recently, founders of Chinese jewellery brand YVMIN Min Li and Xiaoyu Zhang collaborated with influencer and model Xiao Yang to create a capsule collection of decorative “shells” that easily clip on to the latter’s prosthetic leg.
“This project tells everyone that wearing a prosthesis is a fact that cannot be changed — but wearing a prosthesis that looks gorgeous is also achievable,” Yang told Vogue.
“This feeling is super cool; there will definitely be more people who need to experience it.” The shells are currently not for sale and made only for Yang, but the collaboration has opened up avenues for conversation in a region where a prosthetic limb is something to hide, and not celebrate.
This complements the good work already done by Sophie Oliveira Barata, who founded The Alternative Limb Project to allow wearers of prosthetic limbs a unique opportunity to express themselves in unique and creative ways.
TALP’s prostheses can incorporate a wide variety of materials, including metals, crystals and even secret compartments. Barata enlists specialists in fields such as 3D modelling, electronics and cutting-edge technology to create each piece of art, and her clients have included Paralympic athletes, performers and models.
This article first appeared on Sept 20, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.