The Pulse Fashion Show began with a spoken word performance. The poet lamented over the “name brand smiles” she saw worn by children of two-parent households and moaned over the moment someone “shoved an Excalibur sword of truth down [her] throat.” As I listened to her craft a great circus metaphor around overcoming the pain that shaped her childhood, I knew that this was no ordinary Fashion Show. This wasn’t merely a show about clothing or style. This was a show about confidence.
I partnered with the students behind Pulse to help spread this message of confidence as well as to help them raise money for a very important cause. I had never been to a fashion show before I attended the Illinois Institute of Art’s annual production. So while I only have ideas about what a typical one is like, I am fairly certain that this one was special. Aside from the fact that it was entirely student run—with the help from students of fashion, photography, graphic design, video, audio, visual effects and interior design—I could see that the goal was not to propose that certain looks were in style, but rather to display just how many great styles there can be.
This year’s theme, Exposed, was to spread the message of “changing and rising above the challenges we face as evolving humans on the journey to becoming our ideal self.” For this reason, the styles, outfits, and models were incredibly diverse. My favorite moment in the show came when a pink-haired girl in all black linked arms with a blond-haired girl in light blue, and together they sashayed across the runaway. To me that moment was everything Pulse embodied—the idea that there are so many different kinds of cool, and that we should all encourage each other to embrace our unique selves.
The students who walked the runway in clothes their peers designed completely embraced that message, with confident struts and smiles and an infectious camaraderie. As I watched them each exchange glances across the runway, it was clear how genuinely proud they felt for one another for displaying a style they believed in.
Beyond that, many of the clothes were those that people could actually wear. I rarely see clips from a fashion show on TV and think, “ooo, I want that!” But I thought that several times throughout this evening.
Pulse was more of a performing arts experience than a fashion show. With the opening spoken word performance and a highly entertaining mid-show dance number, it was truly a comprehensive celebration of arts, creativity, and expression.