Boulder Women’s Center Holds Condom Couture Fashion Show

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Thursday Oct 31, 2013

In celebration of Boulder Valley Women's Health Center's 40th Anniversary, on November 8 the reproductive and sexual healthcare provider is holding "Condom Couture: A Safe & Sexy Fashion Show." The show will feature fashions created by local designers made of condoms, to promote sex-positive safe sex.

"I am thrilled to be part of this innovative, educational, fun and fashionable event," said founder Brandi Shigley of Fashion Denver, who will emcee the event. "This is a unique and fun way to continue educating people about safer sex, and it also brings out artists designers and advocates in a way that allows them to be creative while spreading a message."

Shigley said that when she was a teen, her mother and a neighbor began making earrings and bolo ties out of Trojan condoms. The two would also buy boxes of condoms and decorate them with puffy paint; a favorite was the whale design for "the seamen in the family."

So far, the event has 25 designers on board, many from the Denver area, including an entire class team from the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design. The designs encompass themes of safe sex and sex-positivity, and Shigley said, "the sketches are amazing... everything from a wedding dress to a yoga bag."

"As far as what constitutes wearable condom art: Keep it in the package!" said Shigley. "We don’t need any of our models strutting their stuff with lubricant sliding down them."

To commemorate the Center’s 40 years, the designs will span fashion trends from the 1970s to today. Current submissions include a Madonna-style cone bra from the ’90s, a "Walk Like an Egyptian" outfit from the ’80s, a punk prom dress from the ’70s and a Jackie O. inspired ’60s outfit.

"There is also a really interesting umbrella entirely made out of condoms, made by a local artist as an homage to the devastating Colorado flood. It’s sort of a play on what condoms do: protect us," said Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center’s Development Director Suzy Gardner.

One Condoms has provided designers with 14,000 condoms in six colors to craft their couture, and Gardner said that the event would raise funds for the independent, nonprofit reproductive and sexual health clinic, which has a 40-year history of caring for Denver’s low-income and uninsured women.

"A history of strong community support has always been there for us, and we have a solid donor base, but because it’s our 40th anniversary, we wanted to do something different -- shake it up a bit," said Gardner. "So we decided to move forward with it, and we love that it involves our community and local designers who make the fashions."

The fundraising opportunities abound. Condom Couture will raise money via ticket sales to the event, and a charitable giving segment with auction paddles. A heads or tails game will be held with a $25 entry fee, and an iPod Air as the prize. A live auction features nine packages, including trips to Cabo, skiing in Beaver Creek and Breckenridge, and hot-air balloon and helicopter rides. There are also sponsorships, in-kind gifts and donations around the big video release they are about to roll out.

"This is how nonprofits raise their funds," said Gardner. "Every penny we make goes back to the organization, because sponsors underwrite it."

Women’s Health was established in November 1973, when a local group of committed men and women formed Boulder Valley Clinic, the first abortion clinic in Colorado, dedicated to assuring all women access to safe and affordable abortion services.

Gardner said that community members stepped up with $1,000 each to start the center, which over time morphed into a family planning clinic, "so anybody uninsured, under-insured or with barriers to accessing health care and birth control can use it. Undocumented workers are a big group, and a lot of teens come for free and confidential care."

Over the years, their name changed to Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center as they expanded services to include low-cost birth control and affordable gynecology services, as well as sexual health education.

Today, Women’s Health provides care to adults and teens at clinics in Boulder and Longmont, with most services offered on a sliding scale, and some free of charge, to assure that everyone, regardless of income or insurance status, has access to high-quality reproductive health care. They hope that the fashion show will raise the Center’s profile.

"As far as we can tell, a condom fashion show is a first-ever for Boulder," said Gardner. "We want to brand this as our annual event, because there is the potential for having a lot of fun and it allows us to the expand awareness about what we do to a whole different segment of the population."

"Condom Couture: A Safe & Sexy Fashion Show" will be held on Nov. 8 at Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St. in Boulder. For more information, visit http://www.boulderwomenshealth.org/community/fundraising-events/?

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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