As a picture of health and vitality, I’ve never had the pleasure of a hospital visit. Still, I’ve seen enough daytime TV to know that hospital gowns are generally blue/gross/have a bum flap. Pretty démodé, so perhaps it makes sense that Ben de Lisi has taken it upon himself to redesign the humble hospital gown.
While I appreciate that being in hospital for a long period of time can be a depressing/demoralising/dehumanizing experience and anything that can alleviate some of that is to be applauded, would you trust the man responsible for this to make you look good? I jest, of course. Actual charitable work in the field of fashion is few and far between so good on him for taking time to do something that will actually effect people positively. The Teenage Cancer Trust did something similar last year as a one-off fundraiser with designers like Alexander McQueen and Henry Holland auctioning off designer gowns, but this is the first time a Brit designer has attempted something more permanent. Way back in the dark days of the 90s, American designer Nicole Miller created a snazzy range of stethoscope print gowns for the Hackensack University Medical Centre in New Jersey (check out this truly bitching website), but the idea of a designer primarily known for evening wear taking up the challenge does seem a little unusual.
According to the interview in the Guardian, he was the one that approached the Department of Health to ask if they’d let him submit some ideas. They agreed and the designs are due to be trialled in King’s College Hospital next month. Time to pencil in a workplace accident/bout of gout?
The Grauniad piece goes on to say that in the US the hospital gown market is thought to be worth £49m(!!), but I suppose when you’re on the NHS you have to be grateful for what you get. I guess it makes sense. If you’re a chic, smart, stylish woman with a scheduled month in hospital ahead, why wouldn’t you buy something nice to take instead of the standard shit?
So what’s it gonna look like? Well Mr De Lisi is keeping fairly quiet but revealed that it’s unisex, has ‘access points’ (snigger) but does not have a bum crack. Cryptically he also compares it to one of his cocktail frocks saying, “there are similarities in the sense that it is one garment and it goes over the body. You could call it a hospital dress.” Intriguing!