UC Davis Women's Cardiovascular Medicine Program Red Dress Collection 2012
UC Davis Department of Design students created eight red dresses for the 2012 UC Davis Red Dress Collection. Commissioned by the UC Davis Women's Cardiovascular Medicine Program, the dresses represent the student's individual design aesthetics and personalities, while raising awareness that heart disease is the leading killer of women and encouraging heart-healthy lifestyles. (Click on each dress photograph to view a larger version)
The human heart is strong yet fragile, similar to a beautiful butterfly. Butterflies are able to travel hundreds of miles in order to migrate but can fall to the ground in the blink of an eye. Hearts are similar in that effect. They beat strong and hard like the wings of a butterfly to power us through our busy lives. However, both can easily succumb to pain and strife. Because of this, it is important to take care of your heart. Eat well, exercise often and be healthy. After all, your heart is simply a small fluttering butterfly locked within your chest.
Red: Color of the Heart
Human feelings are believed to be associated with the heart. The most significant of these feelings are love and happiness. Staying happy is also considered to be good for the heart, while depression and sadness is widely believed to be negative for any healthy individual. Red color holds emblematic characteristics and significance in South Asian cultures, and has been used for centuries.
The inspiration for my red dress came from the Mughal art and architecture. Work of art from that particular era featured red as a primary color through many patterns. Red brick walls and buildings were erected throughout the Mughal empire, and perhaps red emerged as a symbolic color from that period.
Red is not only substance but also symbolic in many ways. It is the color that is ubiquitously associated with feelings. It is also a color that immediately captivates attention. It is associated to joyous events across many cultures. In south Asia (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh), red is the color of choice for women at auspicious occasions like marriages. Traditionally, a girl wears a red dress, red jewelry and red henna on her wedding due to its linkage to heart.
Designer: Faye Lessler
Model: Lily Rothrock
The “Heartbreak” dress was inspired by the idea of physical and emotional heartbreak, both of which are felt when oneself or a loved one experiences heart failure. The idea of a physically broken heart inspired the rough textures and broken lines. Linen and gauze were chosen for their roughness and fraying tendencies, the unfinished edges creating the image and feeling of a breaking heart. The criss-crossing ruffles and tiers of the dress create bandages, which may be used to literally hold a heart together. The bandages also apply to the emotional heartbreak that one may feel while dealing with heart failure. The ruffles wrap around the torso, literally holding the heart in place; yet they are unraveling all the time, just as ones bandages may during a time of physical or emotional heartbreak.
The raw feeling of the “Heartbreak” dress, as well as the image of broken lines and unraveling bandages, mimic the emotions and the reality of heart failure. I hope to bring a new perspective to the issues of heart health, for it is the experience of this pain from heartbreak that is the true tragedy of heart failure.
Stream of Life
My red dress was influenced by my mamita, my grandmother, whose heart health has been threatened by high cholesterol for the past 19 years. The effects of high cholesterol include the block of blood flow in the arteries, which can lead to coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. To encourage the maintenance of a healthy heart, I symbolically convey continuous streams of blood with the structure of my design. The asymmetric, undulating neckline, the fabric strips along the hip line and flowing, sheer silk at the bottom of the dress all symbolize the ease of blood movement throughout the heart. In consideration of the fragility and beauty of the life-continuing heart, my red dress is a metaphor for a luminous chandelier, because our hearts are delicate and require special care in order to allow the sustenance of life.
When I received word that my dad suffered a heart attack last year, I could only remember my heart racing with apprehension and anxiety. This unfortunate event inspired me to design a red dress that represents the physical pain a heart attack victim endures, and the emotional pain the victim’s loved ones bear. In order to portray physical pain, I used darker fabric for the piping detail to express collapsed arteries during a heart attack. As for emotional pain, I extended the piping to symbolize intensified blood flow from adrenaline during mental shock. The heart is a complex and fragile organ that depends on healthy, working blood vessels. As a whole, the piping within my dress signifies the intricate network of blood vessels that function together in an intricate system. Furthermore, my dress has a strong connection with the notion of family ties, because each blood vessel constitutes a family member who supports one another in order to nurture a healthy unit, or family.
My “Heart Working” dress was influenced by my mother, who is concerned about my heart health. As a college student, I endure a lot of academic mental stress. In my most stressful situations, I feel heaviness in my heart and a quicker heart rate when I wake up in the morning. This dress design mimics my heart at work. I incorporated red LED lights into the skirt to emulate the heart beat. The sweetheart neckline complements the heart shape that the LED lights create. Permanent folds on the polyester skirt create a soft, crinkled effect that suggests the release of tension and stress that my mother advises. She advises me to reduce my stress by doing non-school related activities such as enjoying nature. With my red dress, I hope to raise awareness for all women to lower their stress levels to prevent the risk of coronary heart disease and potential heart attacks as they live their lives. It must not be forgotten that simple, enjoyable actions can maintain a healthy heart.
My red dress represents a lively heart; it contains the shape of the heart. I got inspired by some dresses from Lady Gaga.
The front and the back of the dress is attached with plastic tubes covered with shinny red fabric, representing the vessel of the heart. The skirt is constructed with two layers: a stiff layer and a light layer. It is made so that when model walks, the skirt pumps up and down.
Rhapsody in Red
A healthy heart moves at a melodious rhythm. This dress embodies a healthy heart as it sways with the wearer’s movement. It is voluptuous and asymmetrical. The heart is made of layers of muscle tissue forming an intricate organ designed to pump life. The dress, with layers of its own, is made of heavy cotton and a little stretch to mimic the heart tissue. The silk ribbons wrap around the shoulders like arteries and veins attaching a heart to its body.
In the end, I was inspired by the movement of a heart and aimed to work it into an elegant gown, echoing the feminine silhouette of traditional women’s dresses to remind woman that beauty and heart health can be appreciated and protected at the same time.
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