Yalies strut their stuff for a cause

Two weeks ago, the first production of the Sex Week at Yale Lingerie Show — one of the most popular events in past Sex Weeks — was suddenly canceled.

With the schedule already printed and released on all Sex Week material, Dani McDonnough ’09, who led scheduling and production of Sex Week, had to find someone to put together the show in just 14 days. With a little luck, McDonnough found someone bold enough to take on the ambitious project: After receiving an e-mail calling for her direction, Lauren Harrison ’09 agreed go for it.

Harrison was quick to pool her talented resources. Despite the fact that she claims she will never go into fashion, she has more fashion experience than most producers at Yale. Having past involvement with several shows for YCouture — a student-run fashion club — Harrison knew what a challenge this second production was going to be.

But on this project, she would have the immediate support of designer Megan Danna ’08. As part of the first lingerie show production, Danna had already begun designing pieces and was anxious to continue working. Still, producing a show of this scale, in such a short time span and in the prime time Friday night spot of Yale’s renowned Sex Week, is simply impossible for just one designer.

Most would argue that several designers would be needed for this daunting task, but Harrison is proving otherwise. Having seen his work during his own personal show last fall, Harrison went to Bonaire Le ’09 and asked him to join Danna in working on the show.

“I knew he was talented, and I knew he would be up to the task,” said Harrison.

She was right — Le signed on with very little hesitation, and he and Danna became the dynamic duo who would design an entire line of women’s lingerie and men’s underwear in just under two weeks.

Le rationalized this time-consuming decision through his passion for designing. Unlike his perfectionist approach to designing gowns last fall, Le is now dealing with the time constraints of the Lingerie Show by skipping some of the steps he would normally take when designing pieces. Rather than fitting all of the models individually, he has trusted them to provide their appropriate sizes. Le will make some necessary last-minute adjustments today, but for the most part he shows his trust in the guerilla fitting method, saying simply and stubbornly: “It’s going to fit.”

Soliciting models was the next step. Harrison had a solidified source to draw from — the YCouture models. After contacting those students and the original models from the first production, Harrison sent out open invitations to students who wanted to participate. She said she was a bit surprised to find that the male population responded in greater number.

“The guys were very excited to do it, while the girls were a little more hesitant,” she explained.

With a great turnout from the models and the design team of two lined up, production was quickly set in motion. Given 25 girls and 16 male models, Danna and Le had their work cut out for them. The task could be compared to the likes of fashion reality shows “Project Runway” or “Designer’s Challenge,” but the designers described it as far more time- and work-intensive. Creating over 60 pieces in total — including two-piece lingerie ensembles — Danna and Le were on the fast track to showtime. Unlike the professionals on reality television, these Yale students had to design the pieces, buy the materials, and sew everything together — in addition to juggling their regular academic commitments.

But the production would not be complete without house manager and marketing head Meghan Murphy ’09. Murphy got involved a few days after Harrison, Danna and Le started, and was elated to be working on something that was more than just another Sex Week event. All of the proceeds of the Lingerie Show are going to AIDS Walk New Haven, a local community organization that promotes awareness of AIDS. With a minimum $5 contribution for entrance, Murphy expects the Lingerie Show to make a substantial contribution to the group.

The Lingerie Show is also sending a very powerful message about body image. Murphy and Harrison have both continued to stress the fact that this show will teach people to be comfortable with their bodies — both the models and the audience. Harrison said that they did not cast anyone based on body type, shape, or size.

With such compelling messages and outstanding cause, the Lingerie Show is no longer just a must-see event — it’s couture with a cause. Come support the models, the designers and AIDS awareness. Cocktails begin at 6 p.m. with the fashion show to follow at 7 p.m.

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