Stephens fashion design students promote breast cancer awareness

Friday, September 26, 2008 | 6:10 p.m. CDT
Cancer survivor Lynn Storvick inspects dresses designed by senior design students at Stephen's College as part of Fashion for Cause. The students designed dresses inspired by breast cancer survivors to promote breast health and awareness.

COLUMBIA — It's the stuff of which scraps are made: mop heads, strands of hair and stray feathers. But these were the core materials for dresses created by senior fashion design students at Stephens College to raise awareness about breast cancer.    

Every fall since 2005, Stephens has hosted Fashion for a Cause in which fashion design students are given a "Project Runway-esque" challenge: create dresses inspired by the stories of local breast cancer survivors.  

"The rules are simple: use only non-apparel materials, make it attention grabbing, and don't exceed $50," said Sara Fernandez Cendon, media relations manager for Stephens College. "Pink is the required color."

Katherine Altmann, one of the designers, made her dress out of plastic tarp, cardboard and shards of glass from a broken mirror. The name of her piece is "See the Beauty."

She said she wanted to send the message that "you are still beautiful no matter what happens."

Another designer, Courtney Stiles, created a garment made completely of feathers called "Wind Beneath My Wings." Stiles said that she wanted people to know "there are people always watching over you, whether it be an angel or whether it be family members or friends."

"At any time, even the hardest times, you are not alone," Stiles said.  

Lynn Storvick, a breast cancer survivor, came to check out the garments after hearing about the exhibit in her Tai Chi class.  Friends and campus community members were invited to preview the dresses at Stephens on Friday.

"I thought they were fun," Storvick said. "I thought they were imaginative."  

Some of the dresses will be featured in the window display cases of downtown Columbia stores for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.  

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