Designer’s courageous collection

Eilidh Ellery
Eilidh Ellery

A CELLARDYKE woman has been praised for fighting adversity and becoming a shining beacon of inspiration to others.

Eilidh Ellery (23) has battled back against severe allergies, which left her bed-bound and depressed, to being on the verge of completing a textile design course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee.

She suffers from an acute intolerance to salicylates, a derivative of salicylic acid, which occurs naturally in plants and can be found in many foods, clothes, medications, perfumes and preservatives.

In addition to anaphylactic episodes, the reaction she experiences can be so severe that it is as if she suffers from arthritis, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, exhaustion and depression all at once.

Despite going through something that would make many others want to just hide away, Eilidh has used her experiences as the inspiration for her final year project by designing a range of clothing that helps raise awareness of the issue of allergies and intolerances whilst also keeping the sufferer safe.

Her work is now being exhibited at the 2012 DJCAD Degree Show, which opened at the weekend and runs until Sunday.

“People just don’t understand how bad allergies can be,” Eilidh said.

“They think of them as something that makes you a bit sick or itchy or as something that’s all in your head but I can be absolutely floored.

“If I’m really bad then I have absolutely no energy and will be pretty much unconscious for days.

“Having been so ill, I wanted to turn my experiences into a positive, proactive project for allergy awareness. This has blighted my life so much that I wanted to use this negative experience for good and help people to help themselves and people they know who have allergies or intolerances.”

After having to take a year out when her condition reached crisis point last year, Eilidh retook her place and has since created a collection of garments that contain hidden messages through QR codes – which if scanned by a mobile phone takes you to online content, such as videos, which tell you which allergies a person has.

Eilidh continued: “I think this would be especially useful for younger children who can’t really explain their condition. This would help teachers, medics and anyone who comes into contact with them as the codes could easily be scanned to provide information like ‘do not give this child nuts’ for example”.

“All the items are made from cotton and other natural fibres which do not irritate people, because I know the impact that clothing can have on someone who suffers from allergies or intolerances.

“If I walk into a clothes shop, I can instantly tell if they’ve just had a delivery because the level of chemicals in the air is so elevated.

“The images contained on the garments are of some of the most common allergens, such as pollen, pets, lactose or dairy, wheat, gluten, bee stings and peanuts.”

•More information about Eilidh’s work can be found at