People in the fashion industry tend to grow a thicker skin. We can grow jaded and more calloused, obsessed with visuals and appearances, far too comfortable casting judgments with barely as much as a passing glance. I will admit I have developed some of those tendencies in my near decade as an industry insider. We accept them as almost normal, and the moments where that attitude is challenged are few and far between. Today I experienced one such moment.
While preparing to leave the Art Heart’s Fashion afternoon presentation, I was asked to stay to cover the evening shows. I happened to have a gap in my schedule that I intended to use to catch up on photo editing and articles that were due, but I decided to hang out and catch the next show. I had no idea what was on the schedule, until taking my seat and watching Champagne Joy walk out, hand in hand with Mira Sorvino, to introduce Ana Ono’s show. Champagne told a gut-wrenching story of her battle with cancer – how she was diagnosed, went through chemo, radiation, and surgery, until cancer went into remission, only to return with a vengeance. She walked out, brave and beautiful and talked about #Cancerland a “handful of fabulous women across this country who juggle their already amazing lives with their breast cancer diagnosis.” Then the show opened.
Ana Ono is a lingerie and loungewear company for women who have been impacted by breast cancer, mastectomy, breast surgery, and chronic pain conditions. The runway show was a powerful representation of women’s strength, set to girl power tunes like Confident, That’s Not my Name, and Run the World (Girls). Beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, body types stormed the runway in edgy, sexy lingerie, strutting, dancing and embracing each other along the way.
Every model cast was a breast cancer survivor – some had lumpectomies, some bilateral mastectomies, others various stages of breast reconstruction. They were striking, triumphant, and bold and would have given life to even the most stone cold cynic in the room. The show reminded me that fashion can be bigger than just clothes. It can go deeper and hit harder. It can bring joy, tears, and recall memories long forgotten, like those of my grandmother as cancer slowly stole her away. And despite the impossible standards that dominate the runway and most advertising, it can bring something beautiful to all of us.