A Passion for Fashion

There’s something about students strutting their stuff for charity that sounds like the perfect combination. On March 5, the Public Relations Club will be hosting the second annual fashion show to benefit the women and children of the Fargo YWCA. In addition to modeling clothing donated by local stores, as they did last year, student designers will also be showing and donating their own creations. Last year, the group raised over 600 food, clothing, hygiene and household items to be donated, and raised $800 to be given for discretionary use.

The YWCA receives about $500,000 in donations per year in order to cover operating and support costs for the shelter and related programs. Most hygiene and clothing supplies are not factored into the support budget, so these items are brought in by donations and funds donated specifically do that area of help.

“There is so much that goes on here that the community doesn’t know about,” Nicole Ellis, community relations coordinator for the YWCA, said. “Without each donation we get, we wouldn’t be able to support these women or provide as much for them.”

Because of the project’s success and the YWCA’s continual need for donations, the group decided to improve upon what they started last year.

“We wanted to keep the project going this year,” senior Britt VanderEyk, PR Club president, said. “We wanted to continue to build up the PR Club and to help out the YWCA more by giving them help.”

Kirsten Theye, PR Club advisor and communication studies and theater art professor, thinks the project will continue to grow in future years and is pleased the group has continued with this project.

“We decided to build on the success from last year,” Theye said. “They still have a lot of learning left to do. Because this is an annual event, it depends on leadership from year to year.”

While they will continue to seek both monetary and clothing donations from local businesses, this year the group is trying to have more clothing donated from the stores who will have their clothing shown. Last year, Vanity was the only business to donate the clothing to the project after allowing it to be shown during the show.

Additionally, this year they are including a student design component, which allows Concordia students to show and donate their own designs. One such student is junior Chelsea Heeren, who is a member of the PR Club and a clothing designer in her spare time.

“When [the PR club] was brainstorming ideas for something different to try this year, I had said that I bet there are girls out there who put awesome outfits together,” Heeren said.

The group all agreed, and Heeren plans to take the opportunity to show off some of her own creations during the fashion show.

“Even when I was a little girl, my best friends were scissors and safety pins,” Heeren said. “I started experimenting with designing my own clothes around my junior year of high school. My mom taught me the basics and I just went from there.”

Since then, Heeren has created many of her own designs, including formal dresses and even a wedding dress. Usually she designs for herself because she’s “the easiest person to fit.”

For the show, Heeren will be making all new items based off of designs she’s had for a while. Her plan is to make one outfit per week up until the show, which means she has to make 6 new outfits between now and then.

“I have all of the material already, so I just have to sit down and pound them out,” Heeren said.

Her designs will include one formal dress, two daytime dresses, a skirt and top, and party outfits.

“My roommates thankfully are my models,” Heeren said. “That way I can grab them whenever I need to fit them for something.”

Anther PR club member, junior Maren Hamilton, is also contributing some of her designs to the project. While Hamilton has only been designing clothes for about a year, she has been designing shoes and jewelry for about seven years.

“Because I have only been making clothes for fun in my free time, this is a great opportunity to show off some hard work,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton is still deciding what exactly she will show, but she is anticipating either a few dresses or a skirt and blouse outfit.

More student designers are coming out of the woodwork, and the club is hoping more student will be willing to contribute to this new part of the charity fashion show.

With all of these designers and stores contributing, the group is looking for models and will hold interest meetings Feb 7 at 7 p.m. and Feb 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets will go on sale when the event gets closer, and items that the YWCA needs will be listed on the tickets so students know what they can bring in for donations. With each item donated, in return the student will receive a raffle ticket, which gives them the opportunity to win a variety of donated prizes.

While planning the fashion show gives all of the club members event planning experience and another thing to put on their resumes, the group is mainly focused on providing for the YWCA.

“Our mission is to get donations,” VanderEyk said. “We want to make sure we can give these people as much as we can.”

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