Politics and fashion

The Pro Choice/Pro Fashion show benefits activists’ national march
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:54 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

After a harsh winter, the upcoming Pro Choice/Pro Fashion show is just the event to satisfy anyone starved for juicy colors, innovative design and original creations. The Pro Choice/Pro Fashion show on March 13, is a benefit to help local activists go to the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C., on April 25. It is expected to be the largest pro-choice majority to march on Washington. It is a collaborative event sponsored by seven leading national women’s rights groups. The fashion show is one of several local fund-raising events.

The show is designed to be a cultural and fashionable medley with a political twist. It features 11 local designers, all women, who have created original designs or reconstructed recycled garments to showcase.

The designers have met several times for planning and organizing meetings. At the meetings, colors pop and ideas sparkle, making it clear that individual designers are working to produce a line that reflects their individual style as well as their political beliefs.

Angie Vo, a biological sciences student, serves as the director of the show and co-designs for Verbose. Vo got the idea for a fashion show fund-raiser after attending two other local fashion shows.

“Doing a fashion show is an appealing way to raise money for the march, but also to raise awareness for women’s issues,” says Vo.

Vo says the fashion show incorporates many different issues — such as recycling clothes, boycotting brands that are either unaffordable or unattainable and raising awareness about women’s rights and the importance of women voting.

“There will be people who say that this is just a women’s issue, but I think it’s important for everyone,” says Vo. “I think supporting women’s rights is a cause for any forward-thinking person.”

Beth Pickens, a local activist who co-designs for No She Didn’t, has implemented political slogans in her designs. Her design team uses a variety of recycled and reconstructed clothing.

“I believe that recycling clothes is a great way to cut down on the consumerism that aids sweat shops, furthers corporate America and creates waste consumption,” says Pickens.

The designers offer a variety of fashion apparel that suits every style. Sabrina Braden, designer of SARB and owner of Maude Vintage, describes her line as “futuristic formal wear.” Braden says that she is drawn to stretch knit fabrics and shiny materials.

“The line is basically a magpie’s dream,” says Braden, referring to her designing obsession with shiny materials similar to the ones that attract magpies.

Emily Hemeyer, designer of Ragamuffin, is an art student who is primarily interested in dye work. Hemeyer creates the majority of her clothes with recycled or natural elements. Although 95 percent of the materials she uses are natural fibers, the line’s concept is a distinctly “sexy, feminine look.”

Sandra Keeney, a fine-arts student, designs the SK line. Keeney designs for women who want to wear clothes that project a modest and classic, yet still feminine style.

Keeney says that her designs for the show are “hyper-feminine — kind of a tongue-in-cheek way of explaining why I chose to design in the first place.” She has created a line that features a pastel palette to be worn on strong, female models.

The fashion show is also intended to raise the awareness level about women’s issues and women’s rights.

“There seems to be a common trend of people getting so stuck on the black and white-ness of the abortion issue,” Pickens says. “People today are either pro-choice or pro-life; they have forgotten that women’s rights are not only about abortion, but about education, reproductive rights, and the right to chose what happens to our bodies.”

Aside from the runway show, The Pro Choice/Pro Fashion event will feature performances by the local band The Pows, coordinated by Braden. There will also be food and drink, as well as a booth with information about how to get involved in the March for Women’s Lives and a booth representing the League for Womeno ters. Information about how to contact, and where to purchase, the designers’ work will also be available.

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