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Fashion show promotes awareness of fair trade

Models strut in fair-trade fabrics down a charitable catwalk

Photograph by Jeff Lautenberger

MU student and independent designer Mary Karl makes a dress inspired by a stop sign for the fashion show.

September 23, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. CST

Lights will dim as the models get into position and designers make last-minute changes to their looks. When the models hit the runway, people’s thoughts will go straight to slavery. Oddly enough, it’s a relevant concept.

The Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition has organized a fashion show to spread awareness about fair trade, which works to lessen poverty by providing better trading conditions.

Freedom By Fashion

Where: Parkade Plaza, 601 Business Loop 70 West
When: Sept. 26, 5 to 8 p.m.
Cost: $12 for MU students, $15 in advance, $20 at the door
Call: 449-6166

“It’s preventing it by looking at what you buy, where you shop,” says Elizabeth D’Agostino, co-chair of the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition. “The biggest thing that somebody can do is just talk about it.”

The show will feature original pieces from Mustard Seed Fair Trade, nine Stephens College students and two independent designers.

The Stephens designers are using fabric from one of Mustard Seed’s fair trade vendors, and the independent designers will be using repurposed fabric. “I usually get inspired by clothing when I repurpose, but this time I went with the idea of a stop sign because it literally took the idea of stopping human trafficking and morphed the contours of it,” MU student and independent designer Mary Karl says.

Fashion aside, the night will include an experiential activity, “In Their Shackles.” Participants will be given a card with a name on it and put through a series of simulations to help them see what it’s like to be trafficked.

The event will also include a speech from trafficking survivor Margaret Howard, a graduate student at Washington University who will share her story of being trafficked in Missouri.

When the models exit, the cause will remain. “Our world has changed now to where slavery is very underground,” D’Agostino says. “It’s very OK for us to stop it.”

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