Impossible to Wear. Impossible to Ignore.

Fashion Design MFA students, in consultation with world-renowned designer Bart Hess, designed a garment that will be part of his Unwearable Collection, a collaboration with the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim. The collection interprets the devastating impact and unpredictability of a rare skin disease, generalized pustular psoriasis (GPP), through fashion. The new piece brings to life one of the most common experiences of people with GPP: the emotional uncertainty of how it will impact their life each day, and how others will perceive them.

GPP is a potentially life-threatening disease characterized by widespread eruptions of painful pustules across the body. Patients say the pain is equivalent to “10,000 papercuts.” Flares can greatly affect a person’s quality of life both physically and emotionally, and in severe cases, lead to complications including heart failure, renal failure, sepsis, and death.

To inform their design, students Natalia Robles-Oteiza and Urvi Selarka heard from people living with GPP, who said the  flares were “very unpredictable.” Robles-Oteiza and Selarka’s design, titled “Trapped by Uncertainty,” combines unwearable elements, such as crystals and glass, with diaphanous materials used in fashion design. The outer layer emulates smoke, representing the unpredictability of a flare, while the interior symbolizes the beauty and individuality of people living with this rare disease.

FIT DTech Lab Executive Director Michael Ferraro was the creative director for the college’s partnership. “The students were insightful and empathetic in their ability to creatively convey through an evocative and alluring design the emotional uncertainty and discomfort of living with GPP,” Ferraro said.

Hess, who collaborated with Boehringer Ingelheim to develop the first four designs in the collection, consulted with FIT students and faculty to inspire the fifth piece as the emotional interpretation of—and complement to—the original collection, which won a Clio Entertainment Silver award in 2022.

“It was the experiences of people living with GPP that ultimately inspired me to create the Unwearable Collection. It has been a privilege to act as a mentor to FIT’s talented group of designers and witness how they have interpreted the [patients’] experience to add a new dimension to the collection,” Hess said.

“Since its introduction last year, the Unwearable Collection has helped to raise much-needed awareness for GPP. With the addition of ‘Trapped by Uncertainty,’ we hope to improve the understanding of what life with GPP feels like and illustrate the emotional burden it can have,” said Claudia Beqaj, executive director of dermatology, sales and marketing at Boehringer Ingelheim. She praised the “incredible job” that Hess, the students, and the faculty did in “bringing the anxiety and uncertainty of GPP to life through fashion and design.”

On June 27, the five pieces were unveiled to a private audience that included Hess, people living with GPP, and members of the FIT DTech Lab and Boehringer Ingelheim teams. The collection will make its international debut at the upcoming GPP Forum and World Congress of Dermatology in Singapore in early July, which is attended annually by more than 16,000 professionals representing every continent.

Additionally, the FIT collaboration includes multiple interdisciplinary teams who developed launch strategies for exhibiting and promoting the fifth piece: Lauren Lee, Adrian DiProspertis and Tyler Hernandez from Animation, Interactive Media, and Game Design; Zuzanna Zmijewska and Jace Son from the Exhibition and Experience Design; and Margarita Kaplan, Xizhuo Harry Lin and Mariko Dreifuss from Advertising and Digital Design. Faculty advisors were Eric Kaplan, Animation, Interactive Media, and Game Design; Joseph Staluppi, Advertising and Digital Design; and Dobriana Gheneva, Fashion Design. Exhibition advisement was provided by Abigail Honor, partner at the creative agency Lorem Ipsum, and Masha Pyshkina, head of Museum and Experience Design at Lorem Ipsum.

The Unwearable Collection will be on display in FIT’s Art and Design Gallery from September 14–October 15, enabling visitors to view the designs and explore the experiences of those living with GPP. Learn more at

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