Oxford Uni Professor who lost legs to sepsis stars in shoot for Kintsugi

Fashion, Inclusion, Women -

Oxford Uni Professor who lost legs to sepsis stars in shoot for Kintsugi

Earlier this month, Professor Elizabeth Frood, who has previously spoken to the BBC about her life-changing illness, modelled for at St Cross College, where she holds her fellowship. 

Liz, who suffered multiple organ failure as a result of the infection, lost hearing in one ear, much of the functionality of her hands, and had to have her nose entirely reconstructed. She now wears prosthetic legs and is an ambulatory wheelchair user.

The signs of sepsis

“I thought I had a stomach bug,” Liz told the BBC in a video interview in 2018. Even now, she finds it hard to articulate her rapid deterioration: “It started out with shakes, and I initially tried to manage it like I had bad food poisoning. By the time I was struggling to breathe and telling my husband I was dying, it was almost too late.”

At the hospital, three days later, Christoph was told that he and the couple’s 11-month-old son would have to prepare for the worst. Her mother in New Zealand jumped on a plane, while her father, who was not able to travel, hung on the phone.

Against the odds, Liz pulled through although she describes coming to terms with her injuries, her ‘new normal’, as an ongoing grieving process.

She says that she found Kintsugi to be “a revelation. I used to love clothes, but after my illness they became nothing but a struggle and another area of grudging compromise. Discovering a company which is designing lovely clothes with bodies like mine in mind makes me so happy.”

Come rain or shine

On the day of the photoshoot, everyone involved was slightly concerned. Every weather forecast available was showing rain throughout the day. When we arrived at St Cross College, where the events team - particularly conference and events manager Justine - were super welcoming, allowing us to use the St Cross Room as the dressing room. 

It was still raining while makeup artist Rebecca Cardenas was doing Liz's makeup. The first few photographs, taken by photographer Flavia Catena, were shot under some arches in the quad. Every time there was a break in the rain, we'd dash out into the beautiful circular space of the quad, surrounded by the gorgeous old Oxford University architecture. Flavia did an incredible job, with difficult lighting conditions providing an additional challenge. 

Liz was a natural. I’ve had comments from people asking which agency she came from – which she’ll find funny, but it’s true. Her honesty, poise, sense of humour and unique style are what made her such a good fit for Kintsugi. 

Working with an all-female team was brilliant and the energy that's come from it is clear to see. I hope you enjoy the photographs, which I'm sure you'll agree are are both powerful and empowering.

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