Artificial limbs re-imagined as “haute couture” may be the next big trend in fashion.

McCauley Wanner, a University of Calgary Masters of Industrial Design student, is redesigning prosthetics as wearable art for her thesis project. Her formal defence will be presented in conjunction with an “outrageous” fashion show featuring three local amputees.

“(Amputation) is a sensitive subject, while fashion is a really superficial subject,” said Wanner.

A medical fashion show is the perfect combination to get people talking about the current limitations of prosthetics, she said.

“Medical devices are all about limitations while fashion is all about possibilities,” said Wanner.

A typical artificial leg consists of standardized plastic foot, metal post and joint. The socket is customized to the wearer and a latex cover in a “flesh tone” hides foam filler.

“Considering the technologies and material available, cosmetics are still at a primitive stage,” said Wanner.

Prosthetists don’t have time to think about aesthetics, she said. “If you can walk, they think that’s good enough. They don’t have to live like this everyday.”

JP Austring had a limb salvage amputation seven years ago after a battle with cancer. He said there needs to be more options for amputees to embrace their prosthetics.

“I hope (this project) makes the industry more willing to go in an artistic and fashion orientated direction,” said Austring. “It’s about time.

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