Raffaella (née von Stempel, 1992) is a registered blind artist, designer and public speaker.
Raffaella’s background in fashion was instrumental for understanding the structure of the human form. The dynamics of movement, rhythms and nuances, evolved into fabric before being translated into painting and drawing. The way the fabric moves, so does the pen and paint.
Raffaella was the first registered blind student to graduate from Kingston University with a first-class B.A. Honours Degree in Fashion Design, 2016.
Raffaella was presented with the annual illustration award, showcased at Graduate Fashion Week 2016 and was nominated for the Gala and Sophie Hallette Lace Competition. This also lead to Raffaella being featured in VOGUE ITALIA September issue for young fashion design graduates. There was also an article devoted to her in the Guardian newspaper as part of its London Fashion Week coverage of the spring/summer season of 2016.
In 2016 Raffaella was selected as a keynote speaker for the ‘Beyond Seeing’ project at the Goethe Institute in Paris, where she presented her work and design methods to a group of international, fully-sighted, blind and visually impaired students and lecturers. The ‘Beyond Seeing’ project was designed to recognize innovative ideas and visual interpretations of sensory art and fashion designs, seen from the perspective of visually impaired and blind people.
Following the success and continued collaboration with the Goethe Institute, in 2016 Raffaella was invited by ESMOD Fashion School in Paris as a guest speaker and visiting lecturer for a one-day course on sensory fashion illustration.
The ‘Beyond Seeing’ project was extended and featured in an exhibition in Paris at WIP La Villette exhibition centre in 2018, where design ideas and concepts were shown to the public.
In 2016 - 2017 Raffaella was an invited fashion designer along with CHANEL to work with MA students on a collaborative project to brand and market her fashion collections and upcoming sensory fashion collections.
Raffaella was awarded the NatWest entrepreneurship funding prize for a bespoke sensory fashion label in 2019 after presenting at the NatWest headquarters in Bishopsgate and the Citigroup Centre in Canary Wharf, London.
In 2020 Raffaella donated a painting, which was accepted to Vincent Square Eating Disorder service in the Chelsea and Westminster hospital, which is part of the Maudsley Foundation. The painting Raffaella donated was of a kaleidoscope of butterflies taking flight. The painting aims to represent recovery, nourishment, hope and joy. Using washes of watercolour and vibrant gouache paints, Raffaella tried to capture the movement, life and individuality of each butterfly.
In 2020 Raffaella participated in Sophie’s Postcard Art Auction (2020), a charity dedicated to the memory of Sophie Maria Taylor. This was to raise money for the children’s cancer centre at the Royal Marsden Hospital. Raffaella contributed five fashion portrait illustrations on Page (121) of their catalogue.
In 2020 Raffaella featured in Atelier’s "SURMOUNT" issue, fashion Magazine for Autumn / Winter 2020. Atelier is an online fashion magazine dedicated to inclusivity in the arts.