Christina Stephens - universal designs, beautiful on every body

Mercedes Benz runway designer, award-winning lawyer, artist and a disability advocate Carol Taylor is today joining Australia’s adaptive fashion success story Christina Stephens, as a partner and the world’s first quadriplegic fashion designer – with the aim to shake up the global ‘mainstream’ fashion industry.

Since launching in March 2020 by Brisbane-based, former energy-expert-turned-fashion-designer, Jessie Sadler, Christina Stephens has created beautiful, quality, and on-trend adaptive clothing for women and men living with short or long-term physical challenges – something more than 20% of the population live with.

In just two short years, it’s quadrupled its retail revenue, grown its wholesale and drop-shipping revenue by 300%, been snapped up by major retailers including THE ICONIC, and is set to feature in Afterpay’s Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) in May as part of the Adaptive Clothing Collective runway.

Get your tickets here to join us at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week.

And with Taylor now joining Christina Stephens, it’s the next leap forward for this pioneering brand disrupting the fashion industry, creating universal designs, beautiful on every body.

A life-altering injury paved a new career path and passion for Taylor

For Taylor, bringing her creative ideas to life quickly went from designing out of necessity, to pursuing a passion and forging a new career.

In 2001, an accident left lawyer and artist Taylor a quadriplegic. Her spinal cord was severed, resulting in complete paralysis from the chest down.

Despite having only some arm movement but a complete lack of hand or finger movement, Taylor was determined to find and embrace the beauty of life.

She spent years teaching herself to use her paralysed hands and with the help of makeshift modifications found a way to draw, paint, and create.

“I’ve always loved fashion, even from childhood, and sustaining an injury didn’t change that,” Taylor said. “Fashion affects our core sense of identity, confidence, and the way the outside world treats us.”

“I might be on wheels, but fashion moves me forward. That moment I started to wear colour and find, create and make clothing to feel like that person I was pre-injury, it was cathartic. It changed me – and put me on the road to good mental health. That’s how powerful clothing is,” Taylor said.

In 2019 Taylor was invited to showcase her own collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Brisbane describing her style as assertive, colourful, and feminine.

Since then, Sadler and Taylor had been cheering on each other’s successes. But this year, the duo made the decision to team up, with the collective mission to change what’s considered ‘mainstream fashion’.

“Christina Stephens as a label has always been about collaboration over competition,” Sadler says. “If we want to see true progress in mainstream fashion, it starts by working as ‘one’.”

Taylor says, “I was very much aware of Jessie and the amazing things she was doing. In the end we ended up deciding that collaborating was much better than competing.”

And this collaboration has come both - despite and because of – their very different approaches to design.

A new elevated collection to launch at AFTERPAY Australian Fashion Week

Taylor joins Christina Stephens in the lead up to AAFW in May ‘22, where she is co-designing a new collection alongside Sadler, under the Adaptive Clothing Collective banner, of which Christina Stephens is a founding member.

This new collection is a blend of their unique styles bringing an elevated, colourful and glamorous punch to the brand.

“The next collection feels like an evolution of the Christina Stephens label. We’re working on some completely new, exciting, and thought-provoking pieces,” Sadler says.

“Christina Stephens’ classic style is still front and centre of our design philosophy, but now Carol weaves the colour and glamour into our designs our customers have been asking for.

“The core Christina Stephens principles remain the same - our designs can be worn by anyone,” Sadler says. “But we’re giving more consideration to people with specific conditions and abilities, so that our designs are universal.”

Taylor says the designs are eye opening, unexpected and provocative – with one special made to order piece.

“There’s something very special being designed for the girl that can’t stand up,” Taylor says. “I always say to my son – nothing ever changes if everything stays the same, so be that change maker. I hope that’s what this collection will do.

“This is a big market…retailers like Myer, David Jones…they need to realise this is a product that’s wanted. People want this…build it and they will come. We’re getting all the feedback. And this is just Australia alone,” Taylor says.

While Taylor and Sadler remain tight-lipped about the designs, they’ve said all pieces will go on pre-sale immediately following the show.


Christina Stephens is also releasing the next Menswear Collection post-AAFW, with Sadler saying it’s the label’s most stylish release to date.

“We’ve worked closely with our community to design adaptive clothing for men with a range of abilities to move freely, while feeling stylish for so many occasions.

“From easy-fit tees and magnetic dress shirts, to cropped trousers and vests, where freedom, accessibility and design enable you to move from the office to a Sunday brunch, a day at the races, or a night out to dinner,” Sadler says.


April 11, 2022 — Clare Puki