UC Davis Women's Cardiovascular Medicine Program Red Dress Collection 2011

Tins of Love

Designer: David Lee
Model: Vanessa Chin
Like Virgil said, “The greatest wealth is health.” Nothing matters more in our lifetimes than keeping sacred the value of our health and loved ones close to us. No one wants to see the people they care about in pain. It’s what makes us human and vulnerable. One of our biggest vulnerabilities is our susceptibility to disease. Growing up, I had a passion to help people. I too wanted to wear a stethoscope one day and be able to heal. I would realize years later that design was my strength. I didn’t let that stop my youthful ideals. When I first heard of this project in collaboration with the Women’s Cardiovascular Medicine Program, I took on the challenge. With my love for baking and design, I infused those two domains into a feminine silhouette to promote the message behind the program. Health is what drives us onward; and with improved women’s heart health, our mothers, daughters, sisters, spouses and friends can keep doing what they do best: living and loving without fear.

Dress designed by David Lee © UC Regents

Heart Flood

Designer and model: Heidi Lo
When I received this assignment, the first thing I thought of is my friend Vivio. I knew she had a heart problem, but I didn’t know exactly what she was facing until one day she wore a bikini to her birthday pool party. I saw this long vertical scar on her chest along the center of her rib cage, and that was when I knew she had heart surgery. Vivio is a very bright girl who always stays positive about her situation. Therefore, I wanted my dress to be a gift for all the girls who suffered and recovered from a heart problem. The dress as whole represents the healthy heart, with red braids as veins carrying the blood around the neckline. The deep V cut on the front is for showing a scar from heart surgery. I want the wearer to be bright and feel encouraged when healed. I want her to feel proud because she made it through! I want to bring awareness to everyone to appreciate their precious hearts.

Dress designed by Heidi Lo © UC Regents

Thread as a Metaphor

Designer: Ellen Griesemer
Model: Heidi Lo
When this project was introduced, I knew it was something I wanted to participate in. Initially however, I felt I didn't have enough of a personal connection to the topic. While still deciding on the design, I spoke with my aunt, whose response to my dilemma was one of surprise. She proceeded to give me a much more detailed family medical history than I'd ever heard before, including information about women's heart health within my own family. I designed this dress with that in mind. Thread and wire are metaphors for these familial connections as well as for surgery and repair. While I know now that I actually have many connections to the issue of heart health, never having had this conversation concerning my extended family meant I had been missing pertinent information. An unexpected inspiration, this project encouraged me to get informed and share my realization through design.

Dress design by Ellen Griesemer © UC Regents


Designer: Mary Guillen
Model: Swasti Sarna
My dress symbolizes a sanctuary for women’s heart health. The interior red dress represents the heart at its normal state, vulnerable to heart conditions such as hypertension, coronary heart disease and cardiomyopathy. The metal enclosure signifies the ways women can protect themselves from heart disease and maintain a healthy heart by checking cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels; having a low-sodium diet; and exercising daily. The combination of the two elements creates a safe haven for the heart from illness. My personal experience with heart health has been witnessing my mother's struggle with high blood pressure over the last year. It started with mild headaches that grew to be unbearable. When it became troubling, she went to the doctor and discovered she had high blood pressure, which was not a surprise because my grandmother suffers from high blood pressure as well. Even while on medication, her blood pressure level will not allow her to go about her daily routine. She takes care of her heart by checking her blood pressure levels, reducing sodium in her diet and exercising when she can. Her enduring strength inspired the metal element of my dress. While my mother is strong spirited, she is still delicate just like the nature of our hearts. With a predisposition for high blood pressure, I know that I must take preventive actions against heart disease. Through this garment, I hope to inspire and inform women to take care of their hearts, because the heart is the core of our being.

Dress designed by Mary Guillen © UC Regents

The Fragile Heart

Designer: Lucia Carrousel
Model: Heidi Lo
For my dress design, I was inspired by the gills on the underside of a mushroom cap. The elegant lines hidden underneath became the style lines in my dress. Just as a mushroom needs oxygen to survive, so does the human heart. The gills running from the top to the bottom of the dress represent the fragility of a woman’s heart. Our hearts are hidden underneath skin in our chests, yet are pumping nonstop to keep our bodies working correctly. The heart can be easily ignored because it is not on the outside to constantly remind us of how important it is. It is essential to raise awareness to protect and appreciate this vital organ because of its susceptibility to disease. I’m pleased to use my red dress as visual medium to deliver this message and to inspire women to keep their hearts healthy.

Dress design by Lucia Carrousel © UC Regents