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Heart Hat. Photo by John Ross, model is Connie Chai. Image courtesy of Primitive Streak.

Listening to BBC Radio Woman’s Hour last week, I learned about a unique fashion project created by leading British fashion designer Helen Storey and her sister Kate Storey, who is a developmental biologist at Oxford University.

Started in 1997 the project is called Primitive Streak, which in developmental biology refers to an essential moment in the early embryo when cells move into place to start making internal organs like the heart, muscle, and kidneys. Helen and Kate collaborated to design and build 27 pieces of clothing representing the first 1000 hours of life from fertilization to recognizable human form. The collection toured Britain in the late 90s and ten of the pieces are on tour again with the additional new Lung Dress.

Included in the collection are representations of:

  • sperm as a white lacy coat
  • cell division in a long flowing dress with a red and black applique
  • and the heart as a structured hat (pictured above).  

Using vivid colors and innovative design, the clothing turns complicated science into desirable chic.

On the Woman’s Hour segment, Helen said she enjoyed the opportunity of experimenting with textiles and in creating the various pieces, biology had to suggest the material. For her part, Kate is pleased to be able to convey these amazing human development sequences to a different audience.  

Click here to read more about Primitive Streak and see photos.

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