Wanted Wardrobe1

Dancing on Ice star makes catwalk debut at Derbyshire sight-loss fashion show   

A Paralympic gold medal winner and former Dancing on Ice star is lending her support to a Derbyshire preloved fashion store owned by a visually impaired innovator.  

Libby Clegg MBE, who brought home two gold medals at the Rio Paralympic Games, is bringing some extra glitz to an exclusive charity fashion show being held at independent pre-loved clothing store Wanted Wardrobe, in Castle Donington.  

The fashion show aims to showcase some of the designer brands and clothing stocked by the store but also to raise the profile of those who are living with sight loss.    

One third of the ticket price will be donated to Leicester based charity Vista, as well as 10 per cent of the evening’s profits. Plus, all models on the evening will be sight impaired.  

Wanted Wardrobe, in Clapgun Street, was launched in 2023 by Tilly Dowler and business partner Victoria Whittington-Parry.    

Tilly, now 25, has been gradually losing her sight since the age of 16, due to Stargardt disease, a rare genetic degenerative eye condition that causes loss of central vision. It is a condition shared by the Paralympian.    

Tilly said: “Staging a fashion show has been a dream of mine since we opened the shop last year and to combine this with raising awareness for Vista, a charity that I am now an ambassador for, is amazing.   

“All of our models will be sight-impaired - demonstrating the courage and what can be achieved by those suffering from sight loss.  

“We are also showcasing an exclusive range of leisurewear designed specifically with sight impairment in mind.  It is the work of a creative Leicester based fashion designer, Ammagi.   

“We suggested that there was a marker on clothing to indicate which top matches the bottom.” 

Tilly revealed that Ammagi had now created an exclusive range, specifically for Wanted Wardrobe, where each item within the clothing set had a different type of button for easy identification.  

Tilly, a former Jet2 check-in desk worker at East Midlands Airport is always keen to make life easier and more fashionable for others. She hopes to create a range of detachable wrist straps for white canes that reflect different personalities. However, she says she needs support to do this so is keen to make connections.  

She said: “There will be a real party atmosphere on the night. It will be a celebration with a drinks reception funded by Specsavers Castle Donington, sweet treats supplied by Nottingham firm Doughnotts, and goodie bags packed with treats from local businesses.”  

Inside the goodie bags will be a charity bracelet from Letterbox Love, fairy “dolls” from Bracrafts (which are also donating money to breast cancer), and bookmarks and chocolate balls supplied by Caroline Hood.  

Sponsorship and support for the event has also been given by electric vehicle specialist Castle EV.  

The exclusive event takes place on Friday, April 19, 2024. Tilly will be presenting the show alongside local radio presenter, Ian Skye.  

There will be four sight-impaired models strutting their stuff on the evening, including Sam Ball, 31, who will be one of the male models at the event. Sam started to lose his sight at the age of 18 and, before this point, didn’t know he had a condition. It was later diagnosed as Von Hippel-Lindau, a rare disorder that causes tumours and cysts to grow within organs such as the kidneys, brain and, in Sam’s case, eyes.    

He said the disease progressed, affecting his left eye four years ago – just as Covid hit, which meant limited access to hospital treatment.   

He met Tilly through a Facebook group that she had set up providing sight support.  

Sam said: “When she asked if I’d model, I said, why not?  I haven’t done anything like this before but I’m willing to give it a try.”    

As well as Libby and Sam, supporter Beth Ronan will be joining them on the catwalk, having flown in from Cyprus where she lives, and Ellen Kirk, who has regained her confidence after suffering from a stroke which affected her eyesight and now works as a teaching assistant.  

Libby was opening Castle Donington’s Aldi store when she first met Tilly. She said: “Tilly told me that we shared the same eye condition and that she was soon to be opening a shop and would I come and open it. I agreed and, since then, we have become good friends.    

“Ours is a rare condition and affects different people at different stages of their lives so it is good to share stories and support each other.”  

Libby added: “I love the shop and I am a big supporter of Tilly and Victoria. Tilly has amazing courage to go out and just do it especially with the additional stress and challenges that visual impairment brings.   

“She has done an amazing job. She is a great ambassador and an inspiration of how when you have an idea and a dream you should have the courage to pursue that dream.”  

“The fashion show is a great opportunity to spread more awareness of sight impairment, see some nice clothes and shatter some people’s pre-conceived ideas and perceptions about sight loss.  

Wanted Wardrobe has also been nominated in the Nachural Entrepreneurship Awards being held at King Power Stadium on 12th April for start up of the year and the community excellence award.  

For anyone who didn't manage to snap up a ticket for the sold out show, Tilly says there will be another event launching spring and summer wear on Saturday, April 20 from 10.00am until 4.00pm.  

To find out more about the business, visit www.wantedwardrobe.co.uk, follow wanted_wardrobe_ on Instagram, WantedWardrobe on Facebook or find it on www.vinted.co.uk.