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Walk It Out Multicultural Fashion Show celebrates differences in the Iowa City Community

BY JUSTUS FLAIR | APRIL 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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Fashion runways are filled with models who all look fairly similar and engage in nearly identical walks and turns. This will not be the case Saturday, when seven groups will present their unique styles of fashion in the annual Walk It Out Fashion Show.

The event will begin at 8 p.m. in the IMU Main Lounge, with appetizers at 6:30 and a surprise performance at 7:15 before the models hit the runway.

“We believe Walk It Out is a movement — a chance for our community to come together and celebrate not only the various cultural backgrounds and sexual identities represented on the stage but also one another,” said Walk It Out President and UI junior Annie Christenson. “Not only do the audience members see how proud the models are about who they are and where they come from, but that pride imbues them, so they, too, celebrate themselves, which is what is so phenomenal about the show.”

The show’s main goal is to promote diversity awareness and acceptance and to demonstrate that people should embrace all the cultures.

“Diversity exists, and it exists on campus,” said UI senior Keshia Fields. “You have to think about the majority of people in the U.S. and in Iowa, so it is rare to see so many minorities together and see that we are here, we do exist, get to know us.”

The seven groups presenting — African, Latin American, East Asian, South Asian, hip-hop, LGBTQ, and Middle Eastern — began with getting to know those in their own group and others at a Model Mixer early last semester after auditioning and being selected. Since then, they have designed their performances in unique ways.

“Each group is allotted a certain amount of time, and then they really have a lot of freedom. They can just walk or come up with dance moves, whatever they feel comfortable with,” said event coordinator Emily Madsen. “There are two executive members for each group to keep them from getting too crazy and make sure everything is in order, but the models really have a lot of creative freedom.”

That creative freedom was evident at their first full-company rehearsal. The room buzzed with energy as all anticipated showing the other groups what they had to offer and sharing a piece of their history. The event does not focus solely on the history of the fashions, though.

“Usually, each group fuses together traditional and modern music in their segment in the show. The clothes reflect both traditional wear and modern styles seen in that culture,” Christenson said. “Each group has its own story about where its clothes come from. Much of the time, the students already own them either because of their family or because they have traveled to that particular region of the world.”

The LGBT group is unique in this regard because its culture does not have a long history of national origin to trace.

“I run the LGBT group, and because it’s such a hot-button issue, I think it’s great to expose people to this culture,” said Walk It Out Vice President Sydney Mason. “Since LGBT doesn’t necessarily have a history, we decided to attack it from an ‘internal issues with the community’ angle. We’ve done drag, marriage, obviously. We’re representing Stonewall at the beginning. We represent issues more than fashion, but we look fashionable doing it.”

Walk It Out is also devoted to helping the community.

“In addition to promoting diversity initiatives on campus, Walk It Out is partnered with the UIHC’s HIV/AIDS Clinic,” Christenson said. “We help raise awareness about HIV/AIDS to further educate our peers and our community about this world issue as well as collect proceeds at the show, which we donate to the clinic.”

It partnered with UI Hospitals and Clinics four years ago for the first show and has since planned events for World AIDS Day as well as donating all money raised to the UIHC HIV/AIDS program.


Walk It Out Multicultural Fashion Show

When: 8 p.m., appetizers at 6:30 p.m. and a special performance at 7:15
Where: IMU Main Lounge
Admission: $3 for students and $5 for nonstudents


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