Primitive Streak is a fashion Collection chronicling the first 1000 hours of human embryonic development. It also challenges the commonly held belief that science and art are unable to communicate with one another.

Primitive Streak was funded by a Sci/Art Award from the Wellcome Trust in 1997 and was a joint venture between Helen and her sister Dr Kate Storey, a developmental biologist. Working closely together in Kate’s lab and Helen’s studio they created designs for a collection of 27 garments which tell the story of the 10 key events in the first 1,000 hours following fertilisation. The exhibits were produced in collaboration with the London College of Fashion between May and September 1997.

Scientific origins
The title itself 'Primitive Streak' is a scientific term that refers to a productive embryonic structure from which major differentiated organs of the body eventually emerge. The Primitive Streak is a finger-like condensation of cells with a central groove through which cells migrate to form new germ layers, the mesoderm and the endoderm; it appears 12-14 days after fertilisation and is one of the earliest indications of the head to tail axis of the embryo.

Dr Kate Storey, Biography

Born 27.11.60. London UK. Kate Storey is a developmental Biologist and lives in Fife with her two children and her partner Jonathan Gordon. She is currently a Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellow and Reader in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee, Scotland.

Kate runs a research group investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling neural differentiation in embryos and embryonic stem (ES) cells. Her work is funded principally by the Medical Research Council with additional support from the Wellcome Trust and BBSRC.

Kate began research as a D.Phil. student at the University of Cambridge in 1983 after gaining a first class degree in Neurobiology at Sussex University. Following her D.Phil. research into the development of invertebrate nervous systems she was awarded a Harkness Fellowship to continue her work at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.

From 1990-2000 Kate was initially a researcher and then University Lecturer in Biomedical Science in Dept. Human Anatomy and Genetics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Christ Church. Scientific Publications in the last 5 years include papers in international journals: Neuron, Genes and Development, Current Biology and Development.

Kate has undertaken a number of initiatives in the field of the Public Understanding of Science. She helped to make a film of early embryonic development with the Open University/BBC for their Human Biology course and has given Christmas lectures for school children explaining embryonic development as well as giving talks in local schools. Current projects in this area include a master class for teenagers 'How an embryo knows its head from its tail' which is run together with Professor Cheryll Tickle and supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.


"Primitive Streak is an adventurous and highly successful fusion of art and science, and a fine example of British innovation and creativity. I wish the exhibition every success"
- The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, MP, September 1998

"An exhibition marrying art and an ambitious project...but Helen and Kate have achieved just that, the spectacular fashion garments all representing a key stage in the first 1000 hours of life..."
- The Independent, July 1998

"The priorities were to stick to the accuracy of the embryology but also to create something beautiful in itself"
- Times Higher Educational Supplement, October 31st 1997

"Helen was generous with her knowledge and enterprise. She was inspirational, creative, enthusiastic and energetic in her approach, engendering around her an environment of innovation, learning and artistic excellence"
- Sandra Holtby, Head of College, London College of Fashion, June 1998 (a collaborator on Primitive Streak)

"As a nurse and a midwife, this is the most impressive presentation of the development of life I have ever seen"
- Margaret Stafford, Visitor Eden Project, August 2002


Institute of Contemporary Art, London

Pfizer Headquarters, Sandwich, Kent; Tel Aviv Opera House, Israel; Cornerhouse, Manchester; Quartier 206, Berlin; The Hayward Gallery, London (as part of Addressing the Century); The Kunstmuseum, Wolfsburg, Germany; Beijing and Shanghai, China

Museum of Costume, Bath; Mystic Arts Association, Connecticut, USA; World Finance Centre, New York City, USA

Oksnehallen, Copenhagen, Denmark; Museum of Zoology, Cambridge, UK; Exploratorium, San Francisco, USA; Midland Arts Centre, Birmingham, UK; Expo 2000, Hannover, Germany

London College of Fashion, Fashion Space, London; Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton; King's College, London

Guy's Hospital, London; Bonnington Gallery, Nottingham; York University, York; Howard Gardens Gallery, Cardiff; Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre, Dundee; Middlesborough Art Gallery, Middlesborough; Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall

Battersea Arts Centre, London; King's College London / Somerset House, as part of the DNA 50 celebrations; Castle Fraser, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland; The Arches, Glasgow

University of West of England, Bristol; Churchfield School, South London as a Creative Lab in collaboration with Creative Partnerships London South.

Museu Textil i d'Indumentaria, Barcelona, Spain –; Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco as part of Artwear: Fashion and Antifashion

To be confirmed Summer 2006 in association with Creative Partnerships in the East Midlands region


Primitive Streak has proved to be an extremely successful educational model. At each venue it has been visited by children of ages ranging from 7 -17. It has stimulated a great deal of exciting work and thoughtful debate. A selection of projects is listed here.

Brighton University (Spring 1998). A project set to 35 students of knit, weave and printed textiles. Taking one aspect of Primitive Streak, each student produced a project which required research and development into the world of embryology .

Cornerhouse, Manchester (August 1998). When Primitive Streak was exhibited at the Cornerhouse as a range of work was generated as part of a summer schools programme to encourage new learning amongst teenagers.

Shanghai, China. Primitive Streak was shown in Shanghai and Beijing in Autumn 1998 to celebrate Anglo-Chinese cultural links. Through this trip Helen Storey was introduced to La Salle College in Shanghai.

The China online project (1999). was a collaboration between the ICA, AMX, Professor Helen Storey and La Salle Shanghai Fashion School. This was made possible by an online project disseminated from Primitive Streak incorporating textiles and fashion design. A pilot scheme for long distance design learning carried out by16 students for their final year show .

Museum of Costume, Bath (as part of science week 1999). A full educational programme was developed for Primary and Secondary schools, sponsored by Copus. Highlights include 6 schools taking part in an artist in residence scheme using Primitive Streak as the inspiration and point of departure for creating their own work which sought to explain the development of the human embryo. A body of work was also produced by children with severe learning difficulties

Dundee Contemporary Arts, Scotland (April 2002). A series of science, art and design workshops for children between ages 7-12 and for teenagers and young adults. combined science with art and design techniques as part of NESTA's Science Year project, working with microscopes and the collection to create their own interpretations of the first 1,000 hours of life.

Somerset House, London (April 2003). In collaboration with Ravensbourne College of Art & Design and the department of Access & Widening Participation a group of 12-15 year olds with Asperger Syndrome worked with both Mental and Primitive Streak, experimenting with video and film work around the nature of identity. A group of 16 years olds who have fallen out of traditional education also worked with the Foundation on a special project as part of the celebration at King's College London of 50 years since the discovery of DNA.

"Autobiography", Bacons College, South London (2004). "Autobiography" is an Experimental project with 'AS' level students of Art and Design at Bacon's College in Southwark, London. By engaging the students to reflect upon, and research into their cultural background, emotional makeup and sense of self, this project seeks to explore how much personal memory and subjective experience can influence a physical piece of work. The hope is to develop a new form of 'Socio/Psychological portraiture'.

Creative Partnerships – please see Creative Lab section of this site. HSF has collaborated with Creative Partnerships London South to develop school children’s potential, ambition, creativity and imagination.


Craft and Textiles
Embroidery: Implantation dress - Becky Jones
1000 Sperm Coat - Maki Yamashita, Juwairyah Saeed
Dividing cells - Maki Yamashita
Fibre Optics - Sarah Taylor / Scottish College of Textiles
Fibres - Mitsubishi UK Ltd
Light source design - Matt Miles/ Playlight Ltd
Heart sculptures - Barry Flanaghan
Heart Hat - Philip Treacy
Textile origination and print - Belford Print Ltd
DNA sequence prints - Coats Viyella Plc
Spines, ribs and rings - Post
Limb bud painting - Chloe Sendall/Brighton University
Ultrasound and laser work - Janet Stoyel
Jewelled Sperm cage and Jewelled Heart Hat - Erickson Beamon Ltd

Creation of the garments - Helen Bailey and the staff and students at the London College of Fashion, in particular Carmel Kelly, Perminder Khalsi, Hillary Harriet
and Vivienne Underwood.

Science imagery
Dr Jennifer Brown, Professor Gillian Morriss-Kay and Dr Ian Thompson for scientific images
Dr Marco Lee for FSH DNA sequence.
The Storey Laboratory

Primitive Streak photography, originally shot for Viewpoint in 1997
Photographer - Justine, Assisted by James Mountford
Visual Director - Andreas Laeufer
Styling Claire Todd at Public
Make up - Peter Schell at Rockit
Hair - John Chapman at Stuart Watts
Model - Korinna at Models 1


Wellcome Trust Sci/Art Award 1997
The Royal Society/COPUS/Office of Science and Technology
The Craft Councils
The Design Council
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Marks and Spencers Plc
The Mercers Charitable Trust
The London College of Fashion who provided a team of students and technicians to make the work possible.