On Saturday night, more than 800 people in Charlotte, North Carolina, gathered for a fashion event that put the spotlight on a sometimes awkward, sometimes life-changing accessory: the condom. The third annual Condom Couture, aimed to raise awareness about women's health and safer sex, raised more than $60,000 for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.
Twenty-one artists and designers were tasked with creating an original look using at least 1,000 unlubricated condoms, provided by Planned Parenthood. To celebrate the health care provider's 100-year anniversary, the unique works represented various fashion eras: everything from the 1920s-inspired flapper to the Donna Reed look popular in the 50s. After the runway show, the dresses were auctioned off, which raised bout $11,000 alone, says Lesa Kastanas, one of the organizers.
Thanks to the current political climate and the threat of Planned Parenthood being defunded by the federal government, the atmosphere was a little different from years past, Kastanas says. "There was a lot of talk about voting. We saw women especially mobilize around this cause," she says, especially as many contemplate what they can do to "stay motivated and keep out of the dark place some of us feel like we've been in since the election."