|Project Inform Condom Couture Fashion Show at the Intercontinental Hotel. A model sported â€śsex raincoatsâ€ť on his swimsuit. Condoms as a style motif, for a good cause. Photo by Rink.
Celebrity fashion designer Jack Mackenroth from the hit reality TV show, Project Runway, emceed Evening of Hope, benefiting Project Inform on Oct. 15 at the new InterContinental Hotel in San Francisco. As the final presidential debates were being held and the seasonal finale of Project Runway was being screened on TV, the ballroom was nevertheless filled with folks supporting Project Inform. Hopefully they TIVOâ€™ed. The gala event was capped by a one-of-a-kind Condom Couture fashion show. Local and national designers showed their fall collections along with signature pieces partially made of condoms. Proceeds benefited Project Informâ€™s HIV treatment advocacy and information programs, as well as public policy efforts, which have provided support and hope to people living with HIV and AIDS for 23 years. The event celebrated Project Informâ€™s vision and leadership in the quest for improved treatments and a cure and access to healthcare for HIV-positive people.
Michael Allerton, PI board president, opened saying, â€śI want to give heartfelt thanks to all the designers who worked so hard on these fashions.â€ť He spoke of PIâ€™s new mission statement: â€śProject Inform represents HIV-positive people in the development of treatments and a cure; supports individuals to make informed choices about their HIV health; advocates for quality healthcare to respond to HIV and related conditions; and promotes medical strategies that prevent new infections.â€ť Readers will note the addition of â€śand related conditionsâ€ť to the mission statement. Allerton said this includes hepatitis C and co-infections. He said there is a new approach to prevention strategies and speeding up drug trials so AIDS patients do not have to wait five to ten years while a new treatment is being tested. He concluded, â€śWe are still here; we are stronger than ever; we are still needed more than we have ever been; and with your financial support, we will do great things.â€ť
PI Executive Director Dana Van Gorder gave specifics that PI was demanding: those living with HIV must have better medications with fewer side effects; they must see an increased focus on the development of therapies that will actually cure HIV or control it at levels that will eliminate the need for ongoing pharmaceutical use; they must increase the number of people who know they are HIV-positive (in response to the latest data showing that 25% of HIV-positive people do not know they are infected); they must increase the percentage of HIV-positive people who are receiving care and treatment (today 20% of positive people are not engaged in healthcare; all HIV+ people must have unlimited access to quality healthcare that meets their comprehensive medical needs; they must reduce the enormous disparities that exist in the health outcomes of women and people of color with HIV; they must build a response to the epidemic of Hep C, which affects up to 40% of HIV+ people; they must reduce the unacceptably and unnecessarily high number of new HIV infections in the US each year; and HIV agencies must increase effectiveness while building greater efficiency in acknowledging the realities of the epidemic.
â€śIâ€™m proud of our new mission statement,â€ť said Van Gorder. â€śIt is not especially flowery or sentimental; but it is aspirational, strategic, focused, and well suited to our expertise.â€ť He added, â€śIf it is successful, it will do what we all want most: to have an even deeper impact on an epidemic that by all rights should be under greater control than it is today.â€ť He then revealed the new logo. Regarding the â€ślife-saving fashion show,â€ť he said, â€śTonight we are here to prove that condoms can not only be fun; they can be glamorous.â€ť
Mackenroth was a contestant on season four of Project Runway, where he came out with his positive HIV status. He has since used his public visibility to combat the stigma and raise issues around HIV/AIDS-related causes. â€śI was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1989 in New York, and I think if it werenâ€™t for agencies like this, I might not be here today,â€ť he said. He noted that the fashions that night had to be at least 25% condoms or their wrappers. â€śIâ€™ve been glue-gunning for like two weeks,â€ť he cracked. â€śMy roommates think Iâ€™m insane.â€ť His dress was the last in the show â€“ a gorgeous wedding gown made of over 3,000 condom wrappers.
Miss Gina La Divina, a blonde bombshell of a drag queen, modeled her black poofy gown while lip-syncing Honor Blackman doing Pinkâ€™s â€śGet This Party Started.â€ť Then the runway came alive with hot male and female models striking their poses in belts, dresses, and Speedos - all covered with condoms and packets. One of the female models wore a blue light-up hoop skirt fringed with lots and lots of unrolled condoms. I must confess this reporter was a bit hoping that one of the guys would be wearing one single condom â€“ but no such luck. Still, it was a fabulous show that any forward-thinking fashionista would favor.