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Student Success

Hemline for Hearts Inspires with its Seventh Annual Competition

A student stands next to a mannequin dressed in a red off-the-shoulder gown with white trim made entirely from paper hearts. A sign reads: “Design #3 Alicia Ibarra”.

By Elyse Boldizar

On Friday, March 5, the Wilson College of Textiles put on Hemline for Hearts for its seventh annual competition. Once again, students’ creativity went above and beyond for the moving cause.

Hemline for Hearts is a partnership with the American Heart Association with the goal of creating awareness and action around the prevalence of heart disease for women through the Association’s Go Red for Women initiative. Students have only four hours to craft dresses entirely out of red paper hearts that are inspired by the cause. 

Cardiovascular disease causes one of every three deaths of women each year, making it the No. 1 killer of women. Together, Hemline for Hearts and the Go Red for Women movement seek to educate others about heart health as well as support women with heart disease.

Different from past years, the Wilson College held the event at the Raleigh Convention Center. Designers had the opportunity to showcase their finished creations at the American Heart Association’s Heart Ball, an event that raises funds for the Association.

Preparing for the competition

Representatives from the Wilson College and the American Heart Association select which students participate in Hemline for Hearts during two fall semester courses. Fashion and textile (FTD) students with concentrations in fashion design enrolled in Fashion Design 1 taught by Associate Professor Minyoung Suh are chosen to design for the event. Under Suh’s guidance, students design and sew from fabric the dresses that they make into paper versions. 

Two students work on their creations on mannequins for Hemline for Hearts. On the left, Alicia Ibarra stands next to her design, a red paper gown. On the right, Bee Mangine sits near her design, a red cape and pants.
Alicia Ibarra (left) and Bee Mangine (right) work on their creations.

Similarly, fashion and textile management (FTM) students concentrating in brand management and marketing enrolled in the Textile Brand Communications and Promotions course taught by Associate Professor Delisia Matthews are selected to develop marketing campaigns for the event. 

Students in both classes work hard all semester designing and sewing fabric versions of the garments and strategically planning marketing campaigns, all in the hopes they will get chosen to bring their ideas to life.

“Our marketing campaign developed in Textile Brand Communications incorporated several different sections, all with the intention of delivering an informative and cohesive message to our audience,” Hannah Hatch, a senior FTM student who worked on the marketing side for Hemline for Hearts this year, says. “Our initiative included a general flier, a social media timeline, mock social media posts ideas and event planning for the Heart Ball.”

A student stands next to a mannequin dressed in red pants and a cape made entirely from paper hearts. A sign reads: “Design #2 Bee Mangine”.
“Hemline for Hearts is an opportunity to support and raise awareness for every type of woman,” Bee Mangine says about their design, which was inspired by chrysanthemums.

Both Suh and Matthews say that the preparation for Hemline for Hearts teaches students valuable skills for their careers and gives them a platform for good.

“The students’ capability to contribute to the community in creative ways using their own talents or using their own major is inspiring,” Suh says. “I wish students realized how much potential they have to make a great impact on society and their community.” 

Designing with a purpose

Each year, students blow onlookers away with passionate, carefully thought-out designs — this year was no different.

Jayla Renaud, a junior FTD student, says she was inspired by the 2023 Class of Real Women featured on the Go Red for Women website.

“Hemline for Hearts illustrates that art has the power to unite,” Renaud says. “It is an opportunity to join the American Heart Association’s mission in a way that is exciting for me as a fashion design student. There is a purpose behind my design, and it will become a conversational piece that brings awareness to cardiovascular health.” 

A student stands next to a mannequin dressed in a red gown and matching red crown made entirely from paper hearts. A sign reads: “Design #4 Jayla Renaud”.
Jayla Renaud with her design entitled “Queen Survivor.”

Matthews says that not only does the event promote an important message, but it has also inspired young designers to pursue degrees in fashion.

“Every year I’m astounded at what students do in such a short period of time,” Matthews says. “But also, since we’ve been doing it for this many years, we now have students who have actually come to Hemline for Hearts and, because of what they saw at the event, decided to apply and are now students at the Wilson College. Seeing this event go from a concept to having evidence of individuals that we’ve recruited into the college based upon that example is one of the best parts.”