Thumbnail image by Ilianna Garner / North by Northwestern

UNITY Charity Fashion Show held its 16th-annual show on Thursday, May 18 at PALMHOUSE. Exceeding expectations, the show's theme, “Subcultures,” celebrated creativity and diversity. The designers, models and the UNITY team's hard work was apparent throughout the night. This year, UNITY partnered with Arts of Life, an organization providing artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities a collective space to expand their practice and strengthen their leadership.

The night began with a performance from Safety Scissors, who brought a nostalgia for an earlier era with their dreamy vocals and rocking riffs. The first collection was by Elsa Zhang and the momentum didn’t stop there.

Designer Hayden Wentworth presented a line that mixed psychedelic visuals with high fashion glamor. The collection's first look was a black and white patterned jacket, with a vibrant lining, collar and matching shorts. On the jacket's back, a glittering eye completely made the look. Many of the pieces utilized puzzle pieces which Wentworth used to create patterns on the ensembles. The surreal fashion of Wentworth's line, along with the unconventional materials, transported viewers to another dimension where creativity roams free. The controlled chaos in the line honored absurdity in fashion, showcasing creativity at its finest.

No collection fell short of breathtaking with a focus on texture and mixed materials. Materials like chenille yarn, tulle, and fur added depth to each design. The designs featured collections of trends both long forgotten and still celebrated, from shimmering sequins to pastel crochet. This year, multiple designers were students, such as PJ Crochet by Communication third-year Piper Bailey and Naranji by McCormick and Communication fourth-year Sahibzada Mayed.

The night’s finale showcased UNITY’s first collection, featuring a mix of ready to wear pieces, like denim skirts, and fantastical items, like a crocheted cherry choker with a matching bra top. Designed by UNITY members, the show's collection highlighted the production and creative talents within UNITY.  

The UNITY collection also included pieces from Ariee Carter, a member of Arts of Life. She said the idea “from Paris to Chicago” inspired her designs. Her dresses took inpsiration from various designers and were decorated with bows, flowers and chains. She focused on shape and the combination of iconic designer looks with avant-garde details. Carter, who was front row at the show, thanked UNITY and said she loved the night.

Models take a final bow after ending the show with the UNITY line. Jade Garcia / North by Northwestern

The night ended with a performance by Tavern and food from available from a taco truck and boba truck behind PALMHOUSE. After the night's success, I’ll be having sweet dreams of whimsical tulle dresses and silky ribbon-strap corsets.