Cover photo: Deborah Triplett
January 28, 2019
The annual institution that is Condom Couture is gearing up for its fifth and final hurrah on February 9 at the Fillmore in Charlotte. Normally, when condoms are involved clothes are not, but Condom Couture is a unique fashion show with the main textile being everyone’s favorite prophylactic pal.
Condom Couture has shown just how innovative Charlotte-area designers, crafters, and artists really are, all while raising thousands of dollars and awareness for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic (PPSAT) in Charlotte. In 2018, the PPSAT health center performed over 5,000 STI tests and found STI rates are highest in Mecklenburg County. The PPSAT Charlotte health center serves thousands of women, men and teens annually offering a range of services from basic gynecological and breast exams to family planning and testing/treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Education and awareness is key in healthcare and PPSAT is changing the dialogue about sex, STIs and HIV across the Charlotte area. Last year, more than 800 people attended the show at the Fillmore, raising over $100,000 for PPSAT. This year they are expected to sell out.
For the grand finale, organizers have chosen the lavish theme of Carnivale, the annual Brazilian festival that fills the South American country with parades of vivid colors and costumes, lively music, dance, and celebrations for a full week. “We wanted this final event to be a colorful celebration of the last five years of artistic fundraising. Carnivale seemed like the perfect theme for designers to incorporate fantasy, whimsy and a riot of color. We’ve encouraged our designers to think beyond a traditional Brazilian Carnivale dress and to take inspiration from Venetian balls, Asian parades or as far as their imagination, and 1,500 condoms, will take them,” Event Committee Chair Lesa Kastanas said. “As part of this year’s theme, we’ve asked them all to make a central design element of a headpiece or mask. Our Event Designer, Scott Weaver and Backstage Producer, Linda Martinez, along with our Designer Wranglers, Elizabeth Paynter and Sharon Dowell, work with the designers on their preliminary ideas and are consultants during the design process.”
To honor the Brazilian Carnival influence, entertainment for Condom Couture includes aerialists from Aerial CLT and an energizing live performance from the NC Brazilian Arts Project before the runway show. The NCBAP is a Charlotte- and Triangle-area culture collective that aims to share their passion of Brazilian movement forms such as samba, capoeira, maculele and percussion. The host for this year’s Condom Couture will be Blayr Nias, a national touring comic and regular host at the Comedy Zone Charlotte. Kastanas gushed about Nias and added that “[Nias] brings fast-paced humor and her own love of Planned Parenthood to the show. Blayr recently became a new mom and her pregnancy was confirmed at the Charlotte Planned Parenthood Health Center. We’re thrilled to have her host our final show.”
Condom Couture will boast more than 20 local designers including Ladies of Lineage owner Jodene Pooler, women’s wear designer Nicci Wiggins, cosplayer Amberle Linnea, Dupp & Swat’s Davita Galloway, and mother/daughter artist team Bree and Robin Stallings.
“Ultimately, our designers are curated for their amazing creativity and artistic vision, so we don’t expect you’ll find anything but versatility on the runway. We invited all the designers from past events to join us for the finale. Luckily, many were available to return this year and we also had room to invite new designers,” Kastanas said.
Each year has been exponentially more impressive and captivating than the last, this final showcase will be a party not to miss. Prior installments of Condom Couture have hosted over 2,500 attendees and raised more than $250,000 for Planned Parenthood. Losing this vivacious annual event will surely take a toll on creative and healthy discussions on sexual wellness so if you have your own idea for a blockbuster fundraiser to replace Condom Couture, you can contact Shannon Wroblewski, Associate Director of Donor Engagement for PPSAT. You can also visit plannedparenthood.org and click “Get Involved” to find the many ways you can lift up Planned Parenthood. If you’d like to donate through Condom Couture, but can’t attend, visit condomcoutureclt.com to donate.
The final Condom Couture show is scheduled for 7 p.m. on February 9 at the Fillmore and tickets start at $30.