By: Yelena Kozachkova
Fashion: Pink Remedy for Breast Cancer Awareness
Imagine a woman bald, her head held high and her strut strong as she passes on lookers in a pink flurry. She is not a typical model but a role model. She is a survivor and this is her first walk since she heard the harsh words she can never forget, “you have breast cancer”, and this is her time to shine in a runway made just for her and others like her. October is national cancer awareness month and the fashion world has its calendar marked with runways showcasing true role models from Health Care centers to London Hotels, the stage is set.
This union was not always present, however. It took a fashion symbol, like the pink ribbon to promote regular mammograms and to increase early detection of breast cancer but now fashion’s role extends far beyond. In the UK, FTBC (Fashion Targets Breast Cancer), was launched in 1996 by Ralph Lauren. Now it celebrates 15 years since its inception. Their iconic t-shirts are fashionable and serve as a reminder of the tens of thousands of women and thousands of men dying of breast cancer each year. The sale of the famous target breast cancer t-shirts and other merchandise have raised over 11.5 million pounds in the UK alone.
Along with the UK, the USA also has its own designer ways of combining altruism and vogue. The third annual Pink Tie event was hosted October 1st in Memphis at Baptist Memorial Health Care. This is not the kind of fashion show we’re used to; the models are breast cancer survivors of all ages. It is a show not just to bring awareness of breast cancer but to celebrate breast cancer survivors, who remain beautiful and feminine despite their hardships. Baptist Memorial Health Care is not the only medical center offering fashion to fight for awareness. The Archbold Women’s center also has an annual survivors fashion show.
Other venues for fashion are also catching up to the trend. Stephens College School of Design & Fashion, located in Missouri, works on “Couture for the Cure,” a project to bring breast cancer awareness through fashion. The use of avant-garde materials in the pieces emphasizes the bravery and will of breast cancer survivors. The real challenge is to use materials such as seed packets, paintbrushes, water hoses, chicken wires, tea bags, and recycled newspaper and engineer a design that looks as though it is made out of fabric, with at least 70% of the outfits in pink. The college uses this opportunity to teach students to design outside the cloth. The catwalks will even grace the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, celebrating its 15th year on October 5th. The 24 models cast in the show included Trisha Goddard, who will strut for the first time since her initial diagnosis.
Few give fashion credit that extends past the superficial, though credit is due. This month is about designs that are more than art for arts but art for a cure and prevention. Fashion is able to bring victims, the 1 out of 8 women diagnosed yearly, out of hiding. It is even able to give power, reminding women to diagnose themselves early and often. This October the runway are truly special because they are as much about the designs as the models sporting them.