Professor Helen Storey is an artist, designer and scientist living and working in London. She graduated in Fashion from Kingston Polytechnic in 1981, then worked with Valentino and Lancetti in Rome. She returned to London and worked with Belville Sasson before launching her own label in 1983 with Caroline Coates’ company Amalgamated Talent. Storey’s late ‘80s and early ‘90s collections were noted for their questioning of traditional notions of glamour, expense and women’s image, including boas created from rags and evening gowns made from plastic refuse-bags or printed with corporate logos. Following her second catwalk show, Present Times in 1991, Storey won Most Innovative Designer Of The Year and was nominated for British Designer of the Year by the British Fashion Council. Following the closure of the trading arm of Helen Storey in 1995, Storey published a biography, aptly titled Fighting Fashion, charting her personal experience within the industry.
Since the mid-90s, Storey has revisited what she describes as an undeveloped schoolgirl desire to understand and practice scientific research, which has culminated in a series of projects exploring the fields of biology, neuroscience and chemistry. In 1997, the Wellcome Trust initiative Sci/Art, promoting partnerships between science and art, prompted Storey’s first project that combined these disciplines. Alongside her sister Kate, a developmental biologist at Oxford University, Storey created Primitive Streak – 27 pieces of textiles and dress that take the viewer through the first 1,000 hours of human life, from fertilisation to the recognisable human form. A double award-winning project, Primitive Streak has toured in seven countries since 1997 and has been seen by three million people.
In response to the demands of Primitive Streak, Helen Storey and Caroline Coates established The Helen Storey Foundation in 1997, a not-for-profit arts organisation promoting creativity and innovation. The Helen Storey Foundation has collaborated with scientists, and Storey has also conducted her own research in these fields. This has lead to Mental, a five-part work that explores, through hand-craft and technology, key emotions present during the creative process, first shown in 2001; and Eye and I in 2005-2006, which Storey has described as ‘a new kind of explorative space for emotional interaction between humans’.
Storey was awarded Honorary Professorships at Heriot Watt University and King's College London in 2001 and 2003 respectively, and she was made Visiting Professor of Material Chemistry at Sheffield University in 2006.
In 2015, she founded a project called Dress For Our Time, which aimed to use the power of fashion to communicate some of the world’s most complex issues, notably climate change and the mass displacement of people. The project involved making a dress from a decommissioned refugee tent that once housed a family of displaced people at Za’atari Camp in Jordan, and was gifted by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). In 2018, Storey was announced as the first artist-in-residence at the Za’atari Refugee Camp in a partnership with LCF, helping to support and provide financial opportunities for the residents.