Annual event promotes safety through fashion
Raincoats, rubbers and jimmies, oh my!
Carolina Productions, Changing Carolina Peer Educators, Student Health Services and Campus Wellness hosted the annual Project Condom fashion show in the Russell House Ballroom Tuesday night. Although the event began shortly after 8 p.m., the house was packed before then, with only standing room available after 7:30. The affair has garnered much recognition from the USC student body and media alike for its fun, unique designs — all made of condoms.
Now in its fourth season, Project Condom put a new spin on sexual health and awareness in a way that students can both enjoy and learn from. It has also gone global with Project Condoms across the country and even overseas. All of the evening’s materials were provided by One Condoms.
Rachel Dahl, a third-year journalism student, had never attended a Project Condom show, but said she was certainly excited to see what the designers had in store.
“I think something like this is a really good idea for USC,” she said. “It gets people excited to talk about and be open with something that is usually considered faux pas.”
The show began on a strong note, with volunteers strutting down the runway showcasing umbrellas emblazoned with almost every STD and STI in the book. The message here is simple: Protect yourself in any way you see fit.
“It’s always a tricky line to walk when you’re discussing sexual health,” said Project Condom chairperson Tori Espensen-Sturges, a fourth-year psychology student. “Our main goal with the show is to emphasize all the ways you can be sexually healthy, whether that be abstinence, using a condom or any other way.”
One of the most winning aspects of Project Condom is the fact that the contest is open to students of all majors and interests. Anyone is invited to get involved and teams can range from residence hall floors to individual classes and a vast assortment of student organizations.
For many students, the best part of Project Condom is the designs themselves. The attire comes in a medley of colors, styles and themes, with each outfit more diverse than the last. Models were dressed from head to toe in condom garb, with designs a la 20s-style flapper to a full-fledged Vegas Showgirl with a condom headpiece. Even an Audrey Hepburn look-alike was present for the affair, dressed as none other than her iconic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” character. And what show is complete without a little Jersey Shore? Snooki and her guido man-candy hit the runway in their condom clothing, drawing many a cheer from the audience. A USC-inspired dress was also a part of the wardrobe, with a garnet palmetto tree proudly adorning the lengthy black gown.
Although there was a witty take on many of the show’s outfits, sexual health and awareness was certainly the star of the evening. Several of the outfits promoted STD-prevention, sexual protection and, in the case of designer Roxy Lenzo, the promotion of consensual sex and rape awareness in her green dress and white jacket combo.
“I wanted to create an outfit that would resemble something you’d wear on a date,” said Lenzo, who is also a member of USC’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. “I designed it that way to inform people that anything can happen, and you have to be prepared in any situation.”
About 15 teams participated in the fashion show but, after the initial runway strut, the finalists were whittled down to six, including USC’s SAGE and the Mock Trial Team. After that, each judge was invited to question the teams about their outfits.
After a lengthy deliberation, the Vegas Showgirl “Waking up in Vegas” design was named the Project Condom winner, while the audience-voted favorite was SAGE’s flowing green gown.