Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Professor Helen Storey & Dr Kate Storey - Primitive Streak (1997)

Helen Storey began her career as a highly successful and world-renowned fashion designer. In 1995 her own label went into receivership, and Storey was forced to reinvent herself. Her first project after her departure from commercial fashion was Primitive Streak, a collection of clothes depicting the first 1000 hours following fertilisation. This was a collaboration with her developmental biologist sister, Dr Kate Storey, and has now toured all over the world. The regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation in early embryonic development is an important topic at the moment, both in its own right, and for the information it provides about abnormal cell proliferation, i.e. cancer. Having studied some developmental biology myself, I can attest to it being horribly complex and very difficult to visualise in a meaningful way. Displayed in such a non-threatening way as a fashion collection, it opens doors for people who might otherwise be put off by such a subject.

The two images I have chosen to include are Design 17: Closing neural tube dress and Design 18: Heart tube hat. I chose these because I felt that they were particularly successful at providing an understandable image of the process in question, most especially in the case of the neural tube. One of the reasons I find Primitive Streak especially interesting is that the 3-dimensional nature of embryonic development is often not conveyed very well in flat textbook diagrams and blurry electron micrographs, and I feel that these two items convey the ideas especially well. For comparison, I have also included diagrams and electron micrographs of the processes.

Further Reading
King's College London press release on Primitive Streak
Her mind's made up - Observer article
The Helen Storey Foundation


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