She collects vintage clothing and accessories. Even though she can't see any of them.



Donna Purcell loves all things vintage, her spare bedroom is packed with hundreds of dresses and accessories. But what does someone who is blind get out of collecting things they can’t see? Donna is this year’s face of the Don’t DIS my ABILITY campaign and she explains her great passion in life isn’t just advocating for people with disability at work, but also taking a step back in time one gorgeous dress at a time.

What does treasure mean to you?  Perhaps it is a special piece of jewellery handed down from your relatives. Or maybe it is success in growing that special plant in your garden or that new electronic device you purchased.  Treasure means many different things to everyone.

For me, treasure is most things vintage… especially clothes, hats, silver, ceramics and crystal.

Most weekends you will find my husband and me hunting for treasure at op shops, markets and fairs or eagerly bidding at antique and collectible auctions. Most times, I am rewarded with something new to add to my collection.

Things like a cup and saucer to add to my 1920’s Crown Ducal dinner set, an ornate Victorian silver teapot or if I am really lucky, an original 1950’s rockabilly designer dress to add to my collection of more than 1000 dresses.

You might be wondering what I get out of all this collecting when I can’t see what I’ve found?

Donna and Ric

When I put on one of my 50’s dresses, I feel like Doris Day, who by the way is one of my idols. The silk fabric feels light and flowing. I can feel the intricate embroidery or beading and the velvet bows or satin ribbons that have a gorgeous feel when rubbed through my fingers.  They are all handmade and each fabric has a different texture. Because each one is a unique design, it makes it easy for me to identify and fall in love with every single piece I have.

With my dinnerware, I love the tactile element of the floral embossing around the edge of each piece.  Each time I use  them or handle them, my imagination wonders about the tea party conversations my 1920’s teapot must have listened to!

Whether it is the detailed design in a cut crystal vase or the floral design on an antique lace tablecloth or one of my beautiful marcasite broaches… I just love them and to me they are treasures.

Picking favourites is even harder which is probably why you shouldn’t do it. But if I had to choose. Maybe the old English tiered cake plate from my Grandmother or that wacky turquoise feather hat from the 20’s.  But the truth is I delight in each and every piece.

The most exciting thing about collecting vintage is that you just never know when and where the next treasure is going to come from.  It’s all part of the fun.

Don’t DIS my ABILITY celebrates International Day of People with Disability on December 3. Visit