“Excuse me. Excuse me. Ex-cuse me. Excuse me!”
The lobby of the Playhouse on the Square on Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee was positively packed on March 2nd as hundreds of socially and style-conscious guests awaited the big reveal. The CHOICES event was aptly-named Condomonium, with platters of free condoms at each table and a general wildness that you might not expect at a reproductive health center fundraising event. Boisterous laughter exploded here and there from dozens of small clusters on the lobby floor, but the overall feel was, oddly, simply sophisticated.
Hip bartenders mixed drinks sponsored by the local juice bar, and we noshed on unbelievable brownie squares that were delightfully reminiscent of raw cacao date bars.
I was shuffled upstairs to the dressing rooms by an event coordinator and first laid eyes on several of the creations.
When you attend a reproductive health center fundraiser highlighting garments made from condoms, you have a vision wrapped in a sort of white, clingy film. And then, when you see the actual pieces, you realize how crap your imagination is.
The sheer spectrum of colors was a visual treat, but the femininity of the designs is what truly sold me. As the models took their places on platforms dotting the main studio, I fell in love with the cinched waists, full petticoats, thigh-high slits, fairy-inspired wrap skirts, mermaid silhouettes, and the impressive creativity it took to turn one of life’s more awkward, yet so necessary, grocery items into sartorial art.
Each model stood behind a jar pasted with the designer’s name, into which we were to place “condom votes”, from a bag of five or so “one” brand condoms in design-heavy wrappers.
Also up for vote were slightly more mobile models showing off condom-adorned accessories, from a condom wrapper necklace (loved) to blue condom-dotted elbow-length gloves.
Towards the end of the night, the votes were counted, and the top three designers from each category–apparel and accessories–approached the front of the studio to auction their winning designs.
First place in apparel was a surprisingly wearable creation by Clara Siegel, featuring a tulip-silhouette mini skirt covered in deep jewel toned and shaped condoms. The bodice hinted at the harness theme from spring 2013 ready-to-wear, especially the gorgeously geometric and mod BCBG Max Azria line. Her piece sold for $300, all of which went directly to Choices, helping them provide reproductive health solutions to the Memphis area.
Second place went to Bruce Bui, the well-known and well-loved costume designer from Ballet Memphis. His black and white piece featured an exceptional number of condoms and wrappers, used in tremendously creative ways. The black bodice featured a red corseted back, leading to a full, white condom skirt, reminiscent of a romantic tutu, flowing organically.
Third place was a pink, purple, and yellow two-piece design by Nick Bursoni, tying in an ever-feminine bustier-style top with a flowing, nearly ombré condom skirt. Not one to waste, Nick created a condom wrapper necklace that would cause double-take after double-take on the street.
The top accessory was Kong Wee Pang’s striking graphic-inspired bird necklace, adorned with unrolled condoms in bright yellow and pink. I was reminded of 1960s design–the Partridge Family, specifically, but in an absolutely good way.
Second place in accessories went to my personal favorite accessory, the condom wrapper necklace, which infused inspired depth and shape to the monochromatic silver wrappers. I told my fiancé I’d wear the creation by Brittany Poi on the street, but he neglected to bid. I don’t think he realized I was serious.
Third place went to Rebecca Bells and her coy heart necklace, taking the theme to a subtle, yet edgy place. The necklace went for a whopping $170, all to Choices!
The fundraising event for CHOICES, a reproductive health center in Midtown Memphis, helps support the center and its comprehensive services. Click here to learn more about CHOICES.
We have reason to believe that we should call the event the first annual Condomonium. The night was a success–entertaining, interesting, and for a good cause. Like CHOICES on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to keep up with their events and needs.