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UI students organize multicultural fashion show

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | APRIL 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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UI freshman Katherine Yang will walk down the runway for the first time wearing a Hanbok — a traditional royal court Korean dress.

Yang will model during the Walk It Out fashion show by wearing not only the traditional dress but also showing the street fashion of South Korea, where the dress is from.

Clad in a Varsity leather jacket and skinny jeans, Yang hopes this will show people that Korea has many different styles.

The Walk It Out show will incorporate traditional dress and modern styles from the Middle East, Latin America, South Asia, East Asia, and Africa. U.S. cultures, such as hip-hop and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and allies, will also show off their styles.

The walk down the cultural runway will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday in the IMU Main Lounge. Foods from the cultures representing the show will be provided at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, but the organization will accept donations to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics HIV and AIDS clinic.

Yang remembered taking photos at the Walk It Out event last year for her high school and knew she wanted to be a part of the show when she attended the UI.

"I really like the idea that lots of multicultural groups are coming together for one cause and common idea, even though we have really different backgrounds," she said.

One of the main goals Walk It Out is to give students the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of their cultures through fashion.

UI senior Kotheid Nicoue, a copresident of Walk It Out, said the purpose of the fashion show is for students to increase their awareness of various cultures that the campus encompasses.

"We want the models to have the opportunity to wear the costumes of that culture but also have the models express that culture," Nicoue said. "It's a collaboration between the students and a mix of the cultures."

Nicoue and fellow President Hannah Chong look at the fashion show as a movement for diversity and change on the UI campus. They often encourage the models to walk with cultural groups not their own.

"The models have three choices of who they want to walk with," Chong said. "For returning models, I see that they want to try a different group each year, but for new models, I see that they go with the group they are most comfortable in."

One group Nicoue and Chong encourage their models to get involved with is the LGBTQA, because they believe it is important to walk in support of its cause as an ally.

"LGBTQA is underrepresented, and we want to break the stereotype that it has on campus and show that they are just like everyone else," Chong said. "It is always very creative [with its costumes for the show]."

UI sophomore Coco Mansour will represent the LGBTQA in this years' show.

The group's costume theme focuses on social justice, so the members incorporated marriage, gender identity, and LGBT subcultures into the outfits. The color red will also be a major aspect to raise the awareness for the HIV and AIDS clinic.

"For me, fashion is a big part of my life, and I use it as a medium to express myself," Mansour said. "I thought Walk It Out would be a good experience to express myself to the university through the clothes that I choose."

Last year, Walk It Out hosted 900 people, and this year, Nicoue and Chong hope to exceed that number.

"We are the only student organization that does a fashion show, so we want people to come experience that with our models," Nicoue said. "It's a fashion show and a movement, and it really initiates dialogue among students."


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