Andrew Keller / Lantern photographer
While singular condoms are usually worn by men in private, a few women broke that norm Wednesday, clothing themselves in condoms in an effort to advocate for their use.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio held its fifth annual Condom Couture fashion show Wednesday night at Shadowbox Live in downtown Columbus.
Student designers from Columbus College of Art and Design and Ohio State assembled dresses from more than 11,000 condoms, as each of the 14 designers was allotted 800 condoms for his or her design, in a competition for three scholarships.
Ange Marie Ndacayisenga, a third-year in psychology at OSU, didn’t win the show but said she was still happy to have the opportunity to design a garment for the show.
“I have a passion for designing, ever since I was young, but where I’m from, it’s a very poor and small country, so art in general is not supported,” said Ndacayisenga, who is from Burundi, a small African country south of Rwanda. “When I heard about the fashion show, I knew it was a good opportunity for me to exercise my designing and see what I am.”
Ndacayisenga’s dress had three parts: a tight-fitting black halter-top dress, a detachable ruffle piece that spanned from the knee to floor and a collared vest.
“I wanted to do three dresses in one,” she said. “That way you have time to go from work to a party (or) you know, whatever.”
Victoria Harris modeled Ndacayisenga’s transforming dress on the catwalk and at the after-party. “It is so comfortable,” Harris said. “It fits like a glove. I feel like I could hang out in it all night.”
But a different transforming dress took third place in the contest, earning its designer, Marquis Lucky-Engle, a third-year at CCAD, a $500 scholarship from a Planned Parenthood donor.
Lucky-Engle’s model, Deja Redman, wore a silver shell made of condom wrappers embellished with a purple flower on the right side of her chest.
Lucky-Engle is HIV positive and said since receiving his status from Planned Parenthood in Cleveland, he actively advocates for the use of condoms.
“To see condoms on a dress is one thing, but to see them used is another. I wanted to concentrate on what happens when the condoms are not used,” he said, revealing a white dress with red and blue splashes of color under the silver shell.
Second place and $500 went to Bridgette Stevens’ floor-length pink sheath dress, worn by model Katie Burk.
“My mother is a six-year breast cancer survivor, so I wanted to design something in honor of her beauty as well as the beauty of all the women who have survived such a horrific disease,” said Stevens, who is a third-year at CCAD.
First place and a $1,000 scholarship went to Julie Ward, a third-year at CCAD, who designed a gold-painted, rolled-condom-coated dress, worn by Carolina Peguero.
“The silhouette and the design were inspired by designer Alexander McQueen,” Ward said. “I chose him because he really represents strength and femininity, and I wanted to be a part of (the show) this year, because … of this election, and because women need to stand up for their rights.”
Tim Johns, development project director for Planned Parenthood of Central Ohio, said more than 250 people attended the event.
Robin Grant, a member of the host committee for the show, said although specific numbers weren’t available as of Wednesday night, Condom Couture 2012 raised more money than any previous year’s show.
“Over the past five years combined, Condom Couture has raised almost a half-million dollars,” Grant said.
Some of the participants weren’t in it for the money, though. Lucky-Engle said even though he won third place, he wasn’t concerned about the scholarship.
“I didn’t do it for the money, I just did it to make a statement,” Lucky-Engle said. “I know there’s no such thing as safe sex, but (for) safer sex, use condoms. HIV and AIDS are 100 percent preventable.
“That’s like me cutting my hand and you cutting your hand and we touch – it’s that (easy) to get HIV. If you don’t do that, then you’ll be good, so use condoms. I can’t say it enough. Use ’em.”