Condom Couture is a fashion show like no other

 By Shirley Griffith (Photo: Mark Hames)

February 16, 2018

For the past four years, Condom Couture Charlotte has seamlessly merged the thrill of the fashion world with the nobility of promoting safe sex in a unique and excitingly sharp event. Supporting Condom Couture and Planned Parenthood expands health and educational services to those in our community that need it most. Not only does the occasion raise awareness and money for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic (PPSAT), it does so in a particularly uncommon way – designers from the Charlotte area are tasked with creating beautiful garments made out of condoms! Thousands of condoms are handpicked by the designers so they can spin the ordinary into the extraordinary. Attendees watch each outfit come to life as models strut them down the catwalk in a night of stylized entertainment and charity goodwill. Last year’s Condom Couture attracted over 800 people to the Neighborhood Theatre and raised more than $70,000 for PPSAT and this year’s benefit (held at The Fillmore) is expected to be the biggest yet.    

Photo: Mark Hames

Although the runway is the night’s obvious focal point, Condom Couture always delivers a party before and after the fashion show. This year features host Ramona   (three-time winner of the Alliance for Women in Media’s Gracie Award for radio comedy) of 107.9 The Link’s Matt & Ramona, auctioneer Jess George, DJ Spider spinning hype dance sounds, plus a performance by fabulous local Italo-disco style setters Miami Dice and a hip-hop dance routine from the energetic entertainers from NC Dance District. Event Committee Chair Lesa Kastanas says of the soiree, “It’s stylish, sexy and super fun from beginning to end.” In fact, at any point in the year if the subject of Condom Couture comes up, Kastanas’ face quickly lights up at memories of past events and anticipation for the next round. “That first reaction from the audience (and the committee as well) is always a collective gasp at what amazing things designers can do with condoms, including making actual fabric. After four years of planning this event, these designers never cease to amaze us all,” said Kastanas.

Miami Dice photo by Kevin Condon

This year’s theme goes global as designers represent countries from all over the world, including three Planned Parenthood focus countries Ecuador, Mexico, and Nigeria. Speaking of the designers, each of the 21 talented condom weavers have been specifically chosen by dedicated committee members Sharon Dowell and Elizabeth Paynter. When it comes to an algorithm for picking the right designers, Kastanas explains “We enjoy having a mix of Condom Couture favorites as well as fresh faces. We work really hard to achieve diversity at all levels – including background of expertise. This year we have a graduate of Parsons, a cosplay costumer, several women’s wear designers, recycled materials artists, visual artists and uber crafters.”

Yes, the evening is a party not to be missed, but it’s the overarching benevolence and compassion of volunteers, organizers, attendees, and the work done at Planned Parenthood everyday that truly make the night special. Developing the conversation of safe sex and giving individuals proper information on their own sexual health is premiere in the advancement of a better future for us all. Kastanas points out “Over 100 studies have shown that access to high-quality sex education helps young people delay sexual activity, and understand consent and use condoms and contraception when they do become sexually active.”

Condom Couture will be held at The Fillmore (820 Hamilton Ave.) on Saturday, February 24 with doors at 7 p.m. You can grab your tickets here

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