Designer Mason Ewing 30, has been blind since age 15 but he does not lack the vision or ambition of a Designer.
“I decided to work in fashion and follow in my mother’s footsteps,” Ewing recalls. Ewing mother, a seamstress and dressmaker, was murdered when Ewing was 4 years old.
"I lived with my uncle and aunt and they began to fight me. They would awaken me at 4 in the morning to clean the house and wash dishes. When I wet the bed in fear, they took my head and bashed it on the bathtub," he recalled. "They poked my eyes and put pigment (African Hot sauce)in them."
Ewing was bashed and kicked in the head so often that he suffered a seizure that landed him in the hospital, where, he said, he was in a coma for three weeks. When he awoke, he was blind.
French authorities eventually intervened and placed young Ewing in a series of foster homes. He studied physical in college before deciding in 2001 to pursue his childhood dream of fashion design. His fashion styling work ranged from evening gowns to Braille-lettered T- shirts.
Translating what Ewing could see only in his mind’s eye was a challenge. He was able to recruit artists willing to sketch the designs he described, including an elaborate “Marie Antoinette” gown — a flowing, billowing dress accented with swoops of golden-brocaded fabric.
Able to see only vague combinations of light and shadow, Ewing discovered his blindness had enhanced his ability to distinguish the textures of silks, lace, linen and cotton twill. That feel for material also came into play when doll-size miniatures of his creations were sewn together and he was able to “see” his designs by touch.
Although other fledgling young designers of haute couture voiced skepticism of Ewing’s chances of succeeding in the design world, a French organization for the handicapped, Agefiph, decided to finance his first fashion show in 2006, according to print and television reports.
Since then, Ewing has produced a collection of T-shirts that feature Baby Madison, a multi-ethnic cartoon figure, in different settings. The infant has dark skin, blue eyes and a tuft of blond hair that “represents tolerance and love for everyone,” he said. The shirts’ raised Braille lettering tells him the garment’s color and what Madison image is printed on it.
Ewing used the cartoon character to branch out into video animation with “The Adventures of Madison.” He hopes to parlay that into two TV series that feature live actors. His proposed teen comedy series is called “Mickey Boom.”
Ewing is confident he can triumph in another visual arts field.
”There are a lot of people who are handicapped and they’re able to do a lot of things that people don’t necessarily think they can do,” he said.