Repurposing Condoms into Wearables

June 29th, 2010

Party favors from the NAP Project Runway Condom Fashion Show

Did that title get your attention? This is not your average blog entry and this was not your average fashion show.

Just recently, I was involved in a Project Runway Condom Fashion Show Fundraiser for the Nebraska Aids Project along with another member of my design team, Carrie Ratcliff and fellow designer/friend Adrian Hardisty-Horsley. It was hands down THE most challenging design project we have ever been involved in. And we were so glad to be a part of it.

Step 1: Find a sponsor. We were lucky enough to be sponsored by the greatest tattoo parlor this side of the Missouri: Liquid Courage (who just happened to celebrate their 10 year anniversary).

Step 2: Find a model. Again, we were VERY lucky to be introduced to a professional model who was not only the most gorgeous model at the event, but was extremely patient and chill. She didn’t complain once about how hot our coat made out of condom wrappers was to wear.

The Team: Adrian, Carrie, Jill and Christina

Step 3: Design something out of condoms. We met once over coffee with inspirations and sketches and ended up collaborating to create our dream “raincoat.” Forget the fact it would be made out of condoms – it will be very well designed, and everyone will want to wear it. They will look past the fact that it is made out of condom wrappers and tape. (keep reading for more about the actual fabrication.)

Step 4: Engineering the design. We purchased every kind of glue and tape possible. We hunted down a dress form and was able to borrow one from our friends at the Creighton Fine Arts Department. Which, by the way, was an invaluable asset. I cannot imagine designing and completing a clothing design without a dress form. Especially when condom wrappers need some major work to get them to lay flat and appear seamless.

Christina, our model, demonstrating the working hood on the condom coat during the after party.

After working through the design sketches, which had to remain flexible since we had no idea how the condoms and wrappers would work as a physical material, we got together to test the functionality of the wrappers and the condoms themselves. How easy we could get them to stay together. The winning combination: staples and packing tape! Yes…you heard that right. It took a total of nearly 18 hours (and a bottle of wine) to complete the design and fit our model. The first time she put the coat on, we all got goosebumps. It looked like an actual wearable! Which was precisely our main goal. We didn’t want our outfit to look like a costume or the obvious: a bunch of condoms glued together.

Christina, our model, rocking the condom coat with grace and style during the after party.

The event was a great success and raised dollars and most of all awareness for the Nebraska Aids Project. It was such a success that NAP will most likely make this an annual fundraiser. Even though it was a major challenge (Literally, we all suffered staple wounds and mylar condom wrapper cuts – Band-Aid should have been our sponsor), took hours of our time and energy – we would still do it all over again. Because that’s what Creatives thrive on: BIG challenges for a great causes.

We can’t wait for 2011’s Condom Fashion Event and are ready to throw down!

The outdoor portion of the runway. The entire runway was over a block long and wove its way through the Magnolia Hotel.


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