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Vision Loss Doesn't Stop Fashion Designer


by Stephen Becker 16 Apr 2010

The American Foundation for the Blind will host a fashion show today featuring the work of a visually impaired designer. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports on how a loss of sight hasn’t meant the loss of a haute couture dream:

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The American Foundation for the Blind will host a fashion show today featuring the work a visually impaired designer. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports on how a loss of sight hasn’t meant the loss of a haute couture dream:

  • KERA radio story:
    • Click here to watch a video featuring Ermakov’s dresses.
    • Online version:

    Sergey Ermakov runs his hands down a red, formfitting strapless dress to see how it fits the model standing in front of him. He grabs an area where the fabric is slightly bunched and pulls it taught so that it clings just so.

    The Ukrainian fashion designer says it’s the best way to get a feel for the fit. Because he doesn’t speak English, he explains through his assistant, Svetlana Kryukova:

    KRYUKOVA: “Professional designers very often try to feel and to understand the dress by their arm and their fingers. It’s not because blind.”

    The designer will show more than 30 of his creations during a fundraiser for the American Foundation for the Blind on Friday at the Fairmount Hotel in Dallas.

    As producers put the finishing touches on the show Wednesday afternoon, American Foundation for the Blind President and CEO Carl Augusto pondered the unique opportunity that a visually impaired fashion designer presents.

    AUGUSTO: “We want to shatter the myth all the time as to what blind and visually impaired people can do. And we also want to tell the public that losing your vision doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your dreams or losing the way of life that you have.”

    Diabetic retinopathy caused Ermakov to begin losing his site at 11 years old. Now, 38, all he can make out is a bit of color. He still tries to draw his designs for his assistants in his studio back home. The rest he explains verbally. Once the dresses are made, it’s back to the touch technique to make sure all is right.

    Ermakov easily rattles of a list of designers who’ve influenced him: Galliano, De la Renta and Versace just to name a few. And he’s not shy in saying he hopes to be mentioned in the same breath as them one day.

    And Augusto, of the foundation, says there’s no reason he can’t accomplish that goal.

    AUGUSTO: “Sergey, as a world-renowned fashion designer, shows us that with the right attitude, with the right skills, with the right resources, blind and visually impaired people can be successful just like him.”

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