Stephens College students and faculty celebrate national breast cancer awareness month every year by continuing an educational program, “Breaking the Pattern”. Fashion design majors design design and construct dresses inspired by Breast Cancer survivors. Visual communication students then design window displays in downtown Columbia to showcase these dresses while promoting breast cancer awareness month throughout the community. One particular group shares the ups and downs of this process.
In 2005, Stephens College created a program called, Breaking the Pattern, in order to raise awareness of Breast Cancer.
Throughout this program Stephens fashion design students showcase their talents by creating garments that are inspired by survivors of breast cancer. There are only a few simple rules, designers may not use conventional apparel materials, they cannot spend more than $50, and the dress must be eye catching.
Once completed, select dresses are displayed downtown for all Columbians to view. The dresses are handed over to a group in Stephens visual communication class, who are required to design a window display for these garments to be showcased throughout the month of October in order to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
This year, there were five dresses displayed in 5 different downtown shops. The shops that graciously donated their window space to the cause were, BlueStem, Mustard Seed, Makes Scents, Talullah’s and Merle Normal.
Designing the window displays around these magnificently designed garments is a responsibility that Visual Merchandising students take on with excitement and respect. It is important that the visual designers respect the image and message the fashion designers are trying to portray in their designs, while completing the window design process.
Three students from Stephanie LaHue’s visual merchandising class designed the Drive For the Cure window display in the window of local boutique, Bluestem. These three students, Emily Mennemeier, Erin Ewy, and Brigitte Bolesta designed and installed a window display that showcased this dress designed by Brittany Gobel. Gobel’s dress was constructed entirely out of seatbelts and airbags.
The team started brainstorming about the execution of the process very thoroughly by taking into consideration their own design esthetics as well as the esthetics of Gobel. “We just started brainstorming about what would be a good display for not only her dress but for our window as well.” Bolesta Said. They also used past Breaking the Pattern window displays as inspiration and examples. According to Bolesta, they began searching themes that related to traveling, rather than a racecar themes, which many people believed they would chose. Ewy says, “The key was to highlight the dress while also making the window stand out and be visually appealing.”.
The group presented their ideas to Lahue, who helped them finalize their concepts and ideas. According to Ewy, Lahue was adamant that the designs were cohesive, Ewy stated, “Our design would have to work with our small window space while also pleasing the store owners of Bluestem.
The team was very creative in the ways that they portrayed this theme throughout the window. They used many props that were associated with traveling such as maps, road signs, and extra seatbelts from the designer.
Bolesta was at home with this project, with a love for crafting and creativity. “I love to craft, so it was a fun time for me to make the pieces.” Bolesta was also in awe at the fact that something she had created is now on display for all Columbians to see, she said. “I was super excited because I have never done this before, and one of my pieces of work is displayed in downtown Columbia.”
Ewy explains her personal feelings during the process, “My favorite part of this process was installing the window and actually seeing our work come to fruition.”
Even though the team agreed that the overall project was a positive learning experience there were some negative aspects to the project. Bolesta explained her hatred for the long nights of working on pieces for the windows. She said, “Night times was the only time that worked with our schedules, but I was not a fan of staying up until three each night.” Mennemier agreed with the scheduling conflicts saying, “It was stressful having to use time outside of class because all my group members had such different schedules.”