Helen Storey

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Helen Storey, MBE,[1] RDI,[2] FRSA is a British artist and designer[3] living and working in London.[4] She is professor of fashion science at the University of the Arts, London[5] and co-director of The Helen Storey Foundation.[5]

Helen Storey

Background and education[edit]

Helen Storey attended Hampstead Comprehensive School[4] in North London and graduated in Fashion from Kingston Polytechnic in 1981.[6][7] She trained with Valentino and Lancetti in Rome[8] before launching her own label in 1984.[9] Her father is the late playwright and novelist David Storey.[10]

Career 1984 to 1997[edit]

Between 1984 and 1995, Helen built her reputation in the fashion world.[9][11] She was awarded Most Innovative Designer and Best Designer Exporter in 1990[12] and nominated for British Designer of the Year in 1990[13] and 1991.[11] In 1994, Storey designed the dress worn by singer Frances Ruffelle when she performed the UK entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1994.

The Helen Storey label closed in 1995,[12] following which Helen wrote and published her autobiography, Fighting Fashion,[7] charting her personal experience within the industry. Published by Faber & Faber,[7] it was described by Sir Paul Smith as... ‘At last the truth – a perfect and witty account of life and British Fashion’.[14]

Primitive Streak[edit]

Primitive Streak[9][15] is a science-art collaboration created in 1997 alongside her sister, developmental biologist, Kate Storey.[16] The project, a collection of twenty seven dresses, conveys eleven key embryonic moments which evolve in the first 1000 hours of human life in textile form[17] and is named after the structure that forms in the blastula during these early stages.

Initially funded by the Wellcome Trust,[18] Primitive Streak was first exhibited at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1997[16] before touring in seven countries, winning two awards and being seen by five million people.[19]

The Primitive Streak project was expanded in 2011 through a new commission marking the 75th anniversary of the Wellcome Trust.[20][21] The White Lung Dress explores the development and function of the lungs and respiratory health.

The Closing Neural Tube Dress was commissioned for the 2015 redevelopment of the Wellcome Collection Reading Room.[22]

Lung Dress Sketch - Helen Storey, 2011

The Dark Lung Dress is a part of the National Museum of Scotland's permanent textile collection.[23]

Helen Storey Foundation[edit]

In response to the success of Primitive Streak, Helen Storey and Caroline Coates[24] established The Helen Storey Foundation[25] in 1997, a not-for-profit arts organisation promoting creativity and innovation.[9]

The foundation has collaborated with numerous scientists,[9] and has created eight international touring projects,[16][26] notably Primitive Streak,[17][27] Mental,[28][29] Wonderland,[30][31] Eye&I[32][33] and Dress of Glass and Flame.[34]

The Helen Storey Foundation was closed in 2019, but remains as an archive resource for students and researchers.[35]

Other career highlights 2004 to present[edit]

Eye&I 2005 to present[edit]

Eye&I is a performance-led art installation, that seeks to explore the relationship between facial expressions and emotions. The work was created in collaboration with Professor James Coan, professor of psychology, University of Virginia, and has visited schools in South London[36] and events such as the Manchester Science Festival.[37]

Wonderland 2008 to present[edit]

Wonderland was a collaborative project between Helen Storey, the London College of Fashion, scientist Professor Tony Ryan of the University of Sheffield, and Trish Belford of Ulster University, that examined plastic packaging and investigated new approaches to how it could be reused and disposed of.[38][39] The Disappearing Dresses[40] from the exhibition went on to appear at the Royal Academy of Arts, London and toured Europe as part of the Futurotextiles exhibition in 2010/2011.[41]

A later exhibition, Plastic Is Precious: It's Buried Sunshine,[42] explored similar themes with a focus on plastic shopping bags, and was held at Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield in 2013.

Dissolving Dress at London College of Fashion 2008

Catalytic Clothing 2008 to present[edit]

Catalytic Clothing is a project developed in collaboration with Professor Tony Ryan to demonstrate how a photocatalyst that breaks down airborne pollutants could be applied to textiles and clothing through the laundry process to improve air quality.[43][44] The first Catalytic Clothing exhibition, Herself, featured a couture textile sculpture and was first shown in Sheffield in October 2010 before appearing as part of Newcastle ScienceFest in 2011. It was shown in Dubai in 2012 and toured France in 2013.

A second exhibition, Field of Jeans, applied the photocatalyst to pairs of denim jeans, to illustrate how it could be used in everyday life. The exhibition appeared in Sheffield, Newcastle and London, and was developed into A Field of Jeans and Kilts for the Edinburgh International Science Festival before appearing at Manchester Science Festival in 2012.[45]

Catalytic Clothing was announced joint winner of the Sustainability category at the Condé Nast Traveller Innovation & Design Awards 2012.[46]

Dress of Glass and Flame[edit]

A joint collaboration between the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Helen Storey Foundation, University of Sheffield, Berengo Studio and the London College of Fashion, the Dress of Glass and Flame piece was designed to highlight and perpetuate the chemistry behind its creation and production.[34]

First exhibited at the Venice Biennale 2013,[47] the Dress of Glass and Flame has subsequently gone on display at the Manchester Gallery as part of Manchester Science Festival 2014,[48] Sheffield Festival of the Mind,[49] and at Summerhall in Edinburgh as part of The Edinburgh International Science Festival 2014.[50]

Life On The Outskirts 2014 to present[edit]

Crin Dress from Rage Collection, Spring / Summer 1991. Life on the Outskirts. Helen Storey Foundation/Kingston University. Photography: Ezzidin Alwan

Life on the Outskirts is a AHRC funded project developed with Dr Robert Knifton,[51][52] Kingston University and Dr Alison Slater, Manchester Metropolitan University that considers mobilising the Helen Storey Foundation archive[53] to create a digital resource that presents key findings as well as interactions and responses from students, members of the public and project participants.[54]

Dress for Our Time 2015 to present[edit]

Dress For Our Time at UN Geneva, as part of the TEDxPlaceDesNations Transforming Lives event in February 2016

Dress for Our Time was launched at St Pancras International, London in November 2015, and is an examination of the impact of climate change on human beings.[55][56] The dress is made from an 'end of life' UNHCR tent from Jordan[57] and was shown, together with the Dress For Our Time film at the UNHCR Geneva hosted conference Transforming Lives on 11 February 2016.[58][59]

UNHCR Artist/Designer in Residence Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan 2019 – 2020[edit]

In 2019 Helen was given a new role within the Zaatari refugee camp of the first UNHCR Artist in Residence.[60][61]

In August 2020, led by the University of Sheffield, Helen Storey and researchers working with the UNHCR were awarded a grant to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in Jordan. People’s PPE: Dealing with a Crisis by Building Livelihoods in Za’atari Refugee Camp[62] was funded by UK Research and Innovation through the UK Government's Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund.

Academic life[edit]

Helen is part of the team at The Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion,[5] where she contributes to research, curriculum and enterprise activities.[63]

Awards and honours[edit]

Visiting Professor, University of the Arts 1998[15]
Fellow, Royal Society of the Arts 1999[15]
Research Fellow, University of the Arts, February 2000[15]
Honorary Professorship, Heriot Watt University, 2001[15]
Honorary Professorship King's College London 2003[15]
Visiting Professor of Material Chemistry, Sheffield University 2008[9]
MBE for Services to The Arts – June 2009[1]
Honorary Doctor of Science University of Sheffield 2012[64]
Honorary Professor of Craft and Design (DJCA) University of Dundee 2012
Winner of the Condé Nast Traveler Award, for Best Design & Innovation for the Catalytic Clothing Project (Sustainability category) 2012[46]
Royal Designer for Industry, Royal Society of the Arts 2014[2][65]
Honorary Fellowship Arts University Bournemouth 2014[66]


Storey, Helen (1996). Fighting Fashion. Faber & Faber.
Contributor to the Designer Fact File, a guide to setting up a fashion business commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry and the British Fashion Council



  1. ^ a b The Telegraph's Amazing 15: Helen Storey MBE, fashion technologist, The Telegraph, London, 31 May 2012. Retrieved on 31 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b "RSA announces new Royal Designers for Industry", "The Royal Society of the Arts", London, 27 November 2014. Retrieved on 19 February 2015.
  3. ^ Eceiza, Laura (2008).Atlas of fashion designers. p. 220. Rockport Publishers, Beverly, MA, USA. ISBN 978-1-59253-661-0
  4. ^ a b Riddell, Mary. Interview: Helen Storey, New Statesman, London, 9 December 1997, Vol. 126 Issue 4351, p.32. Retrieved on 25 July 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Research Staff profiles retrieved from London College of Fashion website.
  6. ^ Queen honours Kingston alumni Archived 2012-03-10 at the Wayback Machine. Kingston University, London, 25 June 2009.
  7. ^ a b c My best teacher. Times Educational Supplement, London, 20 July 2001. Retrieved on 31 July 2012.
  8. ^ Alumni. Kingston University
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  10. ^ "David Storey".
  11. ^ a b Lobrano, Alec. In a Bind Designers strut pullovers, dresses and bodysuits in springy fabrics that cling to every last curve.. Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, Calif, 12 March 1991. Retrieved on 25 July 2012
  12. ^ a b In an exclusive extract, Helen Storey charts the rise and fall of her empire. Helen's fall New Straits Times, Malaysia, 2 March 1997. Retrieved on 25 July 2012
  13. ^ Hochswender, Woody. Patterns New York Times, New York, 16 October 1990. Retrieved 25 July 2012
  14. ^ Storey, Helen (1996). Fighting Fashion. Faber & Faber, London. back cover. ISBN 978-0571179732
  15. ^ a b c d e f Alumni at Kingston University, London. British Council
  16. ^ a b c Kohn, Marek. Helen and Kate Storey: science and art engaging the public Wellcome Trust, London.
  17. ^ a b Find Your Primitive Streak. Evening Times, Glasgow, 7 August 2003. Retrieved on 25 July 2012.
  18. ^ The art of science Times Higher Education, London, 10 October 1997. Retrieved on 25 July 2012
  19. ^ Lamb, Liz. Helen Storey mixing science with fashion. The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1 March 2011. Retrieved on 1 August 2012.
  20. ^ "Fashion meets medicine at the Wellcome Trust 75th anniversary debate | Culture24". www.culture24.org.uk. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  21. ^ "Science Art – Wellcome Trust Blog |Page 1, Chan:5854053 |RSSing.com". wellcome290.rssing.com. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
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  26. ^ Helen Storey's projects and collaborations. Retrieved from University of the Arts London website.
  27. ^ Storey, Helen and Storey, Kate. The Storey Sisters. Interview by Jenni Murray. BBC Radio 4, 9 March 2011. Retrieved on 31 July 2012.
  28. ^ Take A Walk Through One Woman's Mind in Wolverhampton Culture24, Brighton, 7 April 2003. Retrieved on 25 July 2012
  29. ^ Hackworth, Nick. Mental antics at the ICA Evening Standard, London, 16 July 2001. Retrieved on 25 July 2012
  30. ^ Around the houses: sound and vision Belfast Telegraph, Belfast, 17 October 2008. Retrieved on 25 July 2012
  31. ^ Levinson, R, Nicholson, H and Parry Simon (Eds.) (2008) Creative Encounters: New conversations in science, education and the arts. p. 27. The Wellcome Trust, London. ISBN 978-1-84129-077-5
  32. ^ Look into my eyes Archived 2015-02-19 at the Wayback Machine Times Educational Supplement, London, 1 July 2005. Retrieved on 25 July 2012
  33. ^ Maddock, Su (2007). The Journey of a Creative Thought Leader. The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, Volume 12(1), article 6. Retrieved on 31 July 2012.
  34. ^ a b "RSC collaboration unites science and art at the Venice Biennale" "Royal Society of the Arts", London, 3 June 2013. Retrieved on 19 February 2015
  35. ^ "Helen Storey Foundation is now closed". Helen Storey Foundation. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  36. ^ "Pupils see future staring them in the face". "The Telegraph", 16 May 2005. Retrieved on 19 February 2015.
  37. ^ Storey, Helen; Coan, Jim; Chango, Joanna Marie (24 October 2013). "Eye & I at the Manchester Science Festival". ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  38. ^ "Vanishing Act". "Vogue Online", February 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  39. ^ "Dissolvable dress height of throwaway fashion" "The Daily Telegraph", 19 February 2007. Retrieved on 19 February 2015
  40. ^ Belford, Trish Belford Trish; Storey, Professor Helen Storey Helen; Ryan, Professor Tony Ryan Tony (2008). "WONDERLAND: Plastics is Precious: The disappearing dresses". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  41. ^ "Wonderland: 18th June - 13th July. Home". www.wonderland-sheffield.co.uk. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  42. ^ Renée (7 October 2013). "Plastic is precious". Centre for Sustainable Fashion. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  43. ^ Future Fashion: clothing that can purify air moves a step closer. The University of Sheffield, 2 April 2012. Retrieved on 31 July 2012.
  44. ^ Knight, Matthew. Grime-Fighting garments aim to purify air CNN, US, 4 January 2012. Retrieved on 25 July 2012
  45. ^ "Air-purifying clothes unveiled at Edinburgh International Science Festival". BBC News. 4 April 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  46. ^ a b I&DA winners 2012. Condé Nast Traveller.
  47. ^ "Press Release: RSC collaboration unites science and art at the Venice Biennale". www.rsc.org. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  48. ^ "Revealed: The exciting line-up for this year's Manchester Science Festival". "Manchester Evening News", 3 September 2014. Retrieved on 19 February 2015
  49. ^ "From Wonderland to Dress of Glass and Flame - exhibition, talk and film" Archived 2015-02-19 at the Wayback Machine. "University of Sheffield", 2014. Retrieved on 19 February 2015
  50. ^ "The Culture Studio with Janice Forsyth" "BBC Radio Scotland", 4 April 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  51. ^ "Kingston wins Creativeworks awards" "Creativeworks", 19 May 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  52. ^ Knifton, Dr Rob (2015). "Life on the Outskirts: Making Sense and use of a Creative Life". Art Libraries Journal. 40 (3): 5–10. doi:10.1017/S0307472200000298. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  53. ^ Knifton, Robert. "Research Reflections: Life on the Outskirts". Creative Works London. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  54. ^ Art, Manchester School of. "Life on the Outskirts exhibition inspired by legendary artist and designer Helen Storey". Manchester School of Art. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  55. ^ Storey, Helen (24 November 2015). "Dress for Our Time: Transforming the Way We Think and Act Upon Climate Change". Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  56. ^ Siegle, Lucy (3 January 2016). "The Eco Guide to Packaging". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  57. ^ "2015 UNHCR country operations profile - Jordan". UNHCR. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  58. ^ "TEDx Place des Nations". TEDx Place des Nations.
  59. ^ Fashion, London College of (28 January 2019). "Dress For Our Time displayed at the UN Geneva TEDxPlacedesNations event". London College of Fashion. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  60. ^ Fashion, London College of (4 February 2019). "Professor Helen Storey announced as first Artist in Residence at Za'atari Refugee Camp". London College of Fashion. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  61. ^ Fashion, London College of (20 February 2020). "UNHCR Designer in Residence: The vision for 2020 in Zaatari refugee camp with Professor Helen Storey". London College of Fashion. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  62. ^ "International COVID-19 awards to support global recovery project summaries - UK Research and Innovation". www.ukri.org. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  63. ^ Professor Helen Storey[permanent dead link]. University of the Arts London, 17 March 2009. Retrieved on 31 July 2012.
  64. ^ Executive Summary of Business for Council - Report of the Honorary Degrees Committee. The University of Sheffield, 7 March 2012. Retrieved on 1 August 2012.
  65. ^ "Helen Storey: The Adventure So Far" "London College of Fashion", November 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  66. ^ "Honorary Fellows" "Arts University Bournemouth", 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  67. ^ Science/Art collaborations by Professor Helen Storey

External sources[edit]