UNITY Fashion Show

By Andy Weir

Students, models, and performers will take to the runway at the end of the month for the UNITY Charity Fashion Show, and this year’s show may be amongst UNITY’s largest events ever.

Founded in 2007, Northwestern’s UNITY Charity Fashion Show aims to unite communities through philanthropy and fashion, each year hosting a fashion show for charity. The annual show is organized by the Northwestern student group UNITY.

Last year’s event at the Hilton Orrington set a record as one of UNITY’s largest shows ever, but this year, the show’s organizers are hoping to grow it even more.

“UNITY is on a whole new path,” co-chair Jacqueline Lunsford said. “This year, we’re bringing in more people, more designs,” she added.

Lunsford began her involvement with the UNITY Charity Fashion Show as a model her freshman year at Northwestern. Now, as a senior tasked with leading this year’s show, she is committed expanding the reach and impact of the event.

Unlike previous years’ shows, this year’s fashion show will feature outfits designed entirely by students. Students from Northwestern, City College, and Chicago Public Schools will all contribute designs for the show, making this year the first time the UNITY Charity Fashion Show has not featured any corporate designers.

SocialWorks, a non-profit that aims to empower young students through art, approached UNITY to connect Northwestern students with other student designers for this year’s event.

“SocialWorks is a great organization. They do a lot of good for the community, and here [at Northwestern], we’re all very fortunate...I see this show was a way of giving back the blessing and privilege. We have a great relationship with them, and we really feel like our missions fit well together,” Lunsford said.

Their designs will all focus around casual, young fashion. This year’s designs will particularly focus on “athleisure” wear, fashion for the everyday person. Beyond that, Lunsford said the designers have the leeway to create and design whatever outfits they choose.

But this year’s fashion show will not only feature student designers but also student performers and special guests from Northwestern.

“We’re building a real diverse and interesting lineup this year,” Lunsford said.

Part of this year’s expansion also includes a bigger venue. Though not yet announced, the downtown Chicago venue will be the largest ever to host the fashion show with space for more than 1,000 people.

Ahead of this year’s fashion show, which is set for May 25, UNITY will also host “Fashion Week,” a week of fashion-related programming that will culminate with the fashion show. The week will consist of fashion workshops, makeup competitions, and more.

“The show is really a celebration of artwork... Fashion is an expression of who we are in a creative way," Lunsford said. "We can present ourselves in the way we are most excited about. Whether it be the fashion, performances, or artwork, we want to celebrate and honor art and artists.”


Eish Sumra