UNITY promotes inclusivity, expression at annual charity fashion show


Ziye Wang/The Daily Northwestern

Designer Juleda blew the onlookers away with a bright colored gown.

David Samson, Reporter

A half hour before UNITY Charity Fashion Show was scheduled to start, the line to enter PALMHOUSE had already wrapped around the building.

Around 300 Northwestern students and Chicago-area residents attended Thursday evening’s show in Evanston, which highlighted this year’s UNITY line –– alongside the work of over a dozen designers. 

This year’s theme was “Subculture: The Intersection of Expression, Identity and Fashion.” According to the show’s opening statement, the theme showcased the unique ways designers craft their pieces and emphasized how each represented different artists’ cultures.

“It blew me away. I was really impressed by the breadth of talent coming from the designers all throughout the Chicagoland area,” Medill freshman Bazil Frueh said.

In its second show since the COVID-19 pandemic, UNITY raised over $3000 for its partner charity, Arts of Life. The organization aims to support artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities pursue their passions.

UNITY typically chooses a new charity each year, but the group’s executive director, SESP junior Anthony Engle, said Arts of Life won group members’ hearts for the second year in a row.

“We actually got to meet the artists and tour their studio,” Engle said. “We got really well connected with the artists, but also the people running the nonprofit.”

Ariée Carter, an artist with Arts of Life, featured her designs in the UNITY line. The line’s collection of pieces concluded the show.

Engle said Carter reached out to UNITY last summer and wrote to them about her passion for fashion and drawing, and asked if she could be part of the show.

“She offered to wash dishes. She was like ‘any way that I can help the show, I want to do that,’” Engle said.

UNITY’s clothing committee brought several of her designs to life, including a dress made of pink bows. In the show’s program, Carter said the look was inspired by Coco Chanel and represents the kind of fashion that makes her feel “comfortable.”

Engle said they started crying as the models took to the runway, emotional after seeing a year’s worth of hard work come to fruition.

“When you see it come together, that’s the moment where you’re so happy and overwhelmed with emotions and gratitude,” Engle said.

Several designers outside of the UNITY line were featured, including a few NU students and even one Downers Grove North high school student, Audrey Gorey. 

UNITY exhibited a vast and varying dimensions of fashion genres and aesthetics through its diversity of designers, according to Frueh.

“I was impressed by just the depth of skill coming from a lot of people at such a young age,” Frueh said.

Medill freshman Eleni Tecos attended the fashion show to support their girlfriend, who was a model. Tecos said they were especially fond of the designers that showed off casual streetwear looks. 

Other artists featured more formal designs, including floor-length gowns and deconstructed suits. 

Though the styles varied, every designer maintained the core purpose of UNITY: using people’s love of fashion for good.

“Everyone in UNITY is so invested in the success of the show because it has such a good purpose behind it,” said Engle.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @dpsamson_

Related Stories: 

UNITY fashion show celebrates 10-year anniversary

Room to Room: Student Fashion Edition

‘Northwestern fitss’ Instagram account features fashion outfits across campus