Eight UC Davis students unveiled their red dresses for the department of design’s third annual Red Dress Project — a nationwide project for awareness of heart disease — on Feb. 3.
The red dresses, which were featured in the invitation-only Women’s Heart Care Education and Awareness Forum for Community Leaders, were showcased in Sacramento. The UC Davis Women’s Cardiovascular Medicine Program presented the red dress forum.
“We want to make the younger generation aware of the risk [of heart disease],” said Adele Zhang, design department lecturer who mentors for the project. “It is a great visual message to campaign for this.”
Zhang brought the project to UC Davis three years ago.
Students who are involved with the project design the dress in two ways. They must design with the technical skills, while also sending a positive message behind a physical object.
Each student designer receives a certificate from the Women’s Cardiovascular Medicine Program for participating in the project, Zhang said.
There is no theme to the project. Each designer is encouraged to use their feelings and research in order to create their own theme, Zhang said.
The student designers used inspiration such as physical and emotional heartbreak to convey their message through the red dress.
“My dad had a heart attack last year; it was so shocking, and I was emotional about it because I am very close to him,” said Minn Chau, a junior design major. “I thought about portraying the physical pain of a heart attack and the emotional pain for the family in my dress.”
Many designers used techniques such as piping in order to convey the appearance of veins, as Chau did in her dress.
“My inspiration was butterflies; they are similar to a heart,” said Charlotte Pong, a senior design major. “They are strong since they can fly long distances, but they are also very frail at the same time. There are over 50 butterflies on my dress, each signed by someone who knows or who supports funding for heart disease awareness.”
Pong said that she plans on adding butterflies to the tail of her dress until it is no longer in her possession.
Designer Yuan Yuan Song, a senior design major, used Lady Gaga as inspiration for her dress, which is a heart-shaped dress that gives the illusion of pumping when the model walks.
“My dress inspiration comes from pre-colonial Indian architecture,” said Faizan Dar, a senior design major. “The red dress emphasizes the color of the bricks and is in the shape of a dome. Red is considered a positive color where I’m from, whereas here, it can have negative connotations.”
Designer Faye Lessler, a junior design major, was inspired by the physical idea of a heart literally breaking and the emotional heartbreak of the family.
All designers said they would participate in the project again.
There are still discussions of how to extend the positive message of the Red Dress Project to a broader community.
One idea is to have a free fashion show at Picnic Day, which happened last year, Zhang said.
Three of the dresses from last year’s Red Dress Project were donated and are on display in the Mondavi Center until March 16.
Heart disease is currently the number one killer of women in the United States.
ALICIA KINDRED can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.