fashion show Archive

This collection of outfits and narratives are inspired by

"The Runway Peace Project," Women of Color Resource Center, www.coloredgirls.org


Costs of War and Militarism

Who Profits from Militarism?

Militarism and Gender: WWII to Iraq

Direct Action Fashions

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Costs of War and Militarism

Bomb Gown                            

Megan demands all our attention as she blasts down the runway, confident and powerful, in this breath-taking megaton outfit.  From afar you can see her beautiful smoke clouds, but don’t let her fool you. She is danger incarnate.

Her instant blast, fire, and radioactive dust can destroy life in seconds. And her long-term effects, including cancers and “jelly fish” babies, are also deadly. That gas mask is just for show. 

In her 1945 debut, codenamed “Fat Man”, she killed over 90,000 people in Hiroshima and 3 days later, as “Little Boy”, another 60,000 in Nagasaki. 

Hopefully, her awesome power will one day be a thing of the past. In April 2010, President Obama and Russian President Medvedev took the next steps toward nuclear disarmament.

She looks a bomb in that dress.  But say “Goodbye” to her because her destructive force has no place in a secure and sustainable future. Model: Megan Neil, designers Megan Neil and Gwyn Kirk




Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell                            

It may look like standard issue Army green, but from Tony’s point of view, he’s wearing camouflage.  For the men and women of the armed services who are gay or lesbian, every day is a day of enforced silence, a day of denial of their full identity.  They serve bravely while being denied the equality and recognition they deserve.  The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy requires that our soldiers lie about who they are.

Since 1993, more than 13,500 American troops have been discharged from the military under this policy at an estimated cost of over $400 million.  Those discharges include more than 800 specialists: linguists, pilots, engineers, doctors, nurses and combat medics. They were not discharged because of poor performance, but because of their sexual orientation.

The tombstone of Leonard Matlovich, a gay Vietnam Veteran reads:

“When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

79% of people polled in 2007 were in favor of repealing this policy. Now, President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and former Vice President Dick Cheney are all on record as saying that it should be changed. Model: Tony Tunzat, Designer: Susan Cundiff.



carbon footprint


military carbon footprint

The US Military is #1: the biggest emitter of greenhouse gas, the largest consumer of energy and fossil fuel, and the largest polluter in the world. The military uses 2 million gallons of oil a day for vehicles and facility maintenance alone. 50% of military energy consumption goes to fueling jet planes. The US military is the largest land user in the world with 1,000 bases worldwide and 70% of them in other countries. Photo: Ricky Chung. Model: Deborah Lee. Outfit: Annie Fukushima. 


Federal Budget


militarized federal budget

The camouflage jacket represents 50% of the federal budget devoted to the military, $738 billion in 2009. The skirt shows the other 50%, earmarked for civilian needs: blue for health, red for energy, yellow for transportation etc. Underneath the military budget, the corporate flag indicates profits made by Pentagon contractors. More military money is tucked between the pleats: the VA in the health budget, Homeland Security in transportation, NASA and nuclear weapons research in the energy budget. Uncle Sam's hat hides billions of dollars financing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Photo: Ricky Chung. Model: Ellen-Rae Cachola. Design: Christine Ahn and Sarah Shanley


Future of War


The Future of War?              

Kelsey's outfit straddles two worlds -- digital and human. Her wire-bound arms represent humanity's growing dependence on the computer age and on electricity. Wires move from the tips of her fingers to her face, showing the connection and interdependence of human and computer brains.

If war is allowed to continue, will warfare become increasingly digital with the distinction between humanity and machinery fading into an electric blur?

Already, unmanned drones—computer operated missiles—are programmed to locate and destroy targets in Pakistan.  This technology protects U.S. soldiers from risk of injury and death. The programmers are safe in Nevada AND on the front line at the same time. If the drones malfunction and destroy a wedding party by mistake, who is responsible?

In future, will the digital world be as important as the human world or is it already becoming a dominant form of existence? Model and Designer: Kelsey Stilson


People's Budget


People's budget

This 3-piece cotton outfit remakes the military budget to meet people's needs. There are many pockets of money--for college, health care, renewable energy, good public transit, affordable homes, parks and gardens, filling in potholes, cleaning up trash, for drug treatment, AIDS research, community centers, care for everyone who needs care. There's money for poetry, music, theater, dance painting and everything you can imagine needed to live in peace and with justice. Photo Araceli Curiel. Model: Sandra Schwartz. Outfit: Gwyn Kirk.



war not sexy


war is not sexy

Genevie is wearing a sexy above-the-knee Army green dress representing the recruiters’ subliminal message that war is sexy. The jewels on her chest are like medals -- for courage and honor -- suggesting to a smart young woman that she will be respected and valued. The gold bracelets symbolize the promise of money for college, training for the future, and perhaps a large signing bonus.  They are also gold handcuffs. Once she joins she’s military property. There are no guarantees that she’ll get the job she wants or that she won’t see combat.

The outfit's long black cape shows the dark shadow that may follow Genevie even after she leaves the service. This is the trauma experienced by many vets—maybe from sexual abuse by male colleagues, haunting memories and flashbacks of atrocities she witnessed, even having to kill.

Don't let the military take your style! Death is not a fashion statement. Photo: Ricky Chung. Model: Genevie Gold. Outfit: AFSC Youth in Militarism Project.


  Who Profits From War?


Dressed Fit to Overkill              

Here comes Kiah as Mother Earth Dressed Fit to Overkill.  She’s wearing over 23,000 nuclear warheads on her summery cotton dress.  Each one can destroy a city in a matter of minutes.  96% of them belong to the U.S. and Russia.

And those poofy little mushroom clouds in the oceans?  They’re American and Russian nuclear warheads deployed on ships and submarines.

Is there any hope for Mother Earth to reduce this lethal stockpile?  Absolutely!  Notice the alphabet design along the hemline. 

CTBT is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Since signing in 1996 the US, Russia, Great Britain, France and China have discontinued all nuclear testing.

NPT is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This has kept the number of nations that possess nuclear weapons to nine, well below the number experts thought would enter this crazy and dangerous arms race.

START is the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. In spring of 2010, the US and Russian Presidents signed an updated agreement.  It will reduce each nation’s stockpile by 30%.

Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) has its roots in Nuclear Disarmament.  National WAND and Oregon WAND are working to ratify START and CTBT.  With commitment and negotiation, we can reduce 23,000 nuclear warheads to zero. Model: Kiah Gibian, Designer: Susan Cundiff






















Banana Republic


Jasmine is wearing a 2-piece silk Banana Republic outfit, with military accents along the hem, the blouse, the cap, and shopping bag.

For most young adults, “Banana Republic” is the upscale store at the mall.  But the name “Banana Republic” is a derogatory term for poor Latin American countries with unstable governments strongly linked to foreign military and business interests.

Guatemala is one example. Many of Guatemala’s banana plantations were owned by United Fruit Company, a U.S. corporation, which controlled the land and paid extremely low wages.

When the democratically elected president Jacobo Arbenz implemented land reform laws in 1951, and demanded fair treatment for workers, lobbyists for United Fruit convinced the C.I.A. that Arbenz posed a threat to the United States.  In 1954, U.S. troops helped to carry out a coup, which installed a military dictator as the new president. United Fruit got “their” land back and banana trade unions were banned.

So, think about where you shop and what you buy into at the mall – you can find military origins in the most unexpected places. Model: Jasmine Gevatosky, Designer: Katherine Gorham













Military Cover-Up             

Terry is wearing this versatile black cape, designed by Gabriela Network. It’s a show-stopper and practical too. It even looks fetching in the rain. It's reversible, so that its underside serves as a military cover. What is the “inside story?” How 'bout the amount of US military aid that goes to the Philippines? Before 9/11, this was 30 million, but now it’s ten times that PLUS military hardware. What a monstrous bulge to hide!

The inside story also includes human rights violations perpetrated by the Philippine Government for years, including more than 800 extra-judicial killings and 127 enforced disappearances since 2001. Thanks to the U.S. global war on terrorism, over 300 political activists have been abducted and killed, including the murder of 11 GABRIELA sisters.

Due to the former colonization of the Philippines by Spain and then by the United States, the national economy has been decimated, and relies on migrant workers sending remittances from abroad. Many activists in the Philippines, together with allies in the US and elsewhere are resisting centuries of colonialism and military oppression to reveal their strength, independence, and traditional mahlong beauty. Model: Terry Bautista, Designers: Joy Duenas and Terry Bautista




rosie the riveter

The US military deployed women like Rose Will Monroe who worked as a riveter on B-24 and B-29 bombers during World War II, when men went off to war. She starred in a promotional film used to convince women they had a patriotic duty to join the war effort on the "home front". "Rose the Riveter" has become a feminist icon with her bandana, rolled-up sleeves, and can-do attitude. When the war ended women were expected to return to their everyday housework as men returned from the war.  Photo: Araceli Curiel. Model and Outfit: Sarah Block.








A French fashion designer used the name "bikini" for his two-pieces bathing suit after the US dropped an atomic bomb on Bikini Atoll in 1946. This dominated world headlines when his atom-sized bathing suit debuted on the runway. Women have been deployed to entertain US troops in bars and clubs for decades, many expected to wear a bikini--or something skimpier. Although the bikini is now part of mainstream fashion, the model chose to wear this bikini over her clothes. Photo: Ricky Chung. Model: Shinako Oyakawa. Bathing Suit: Old Navy.




war bride

US anti-immigrant acts from Chinese Exclusion to the 1935 Filipino Repatration Act made it difficult for Asians to migrate to the US. However, the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific during World War II meant increased relations between US troops and local women. In 1945, Congress signed he War Brides Act. This somber bridal gown of fleece camouflage with its short black veil symbolizes the fate facing yung military brides -- that their soldier husbands may not return home. Photo: Araceli Curiel. Model: Hikaru Kasahara. Outfit: Jay Kim.




Power Suit

Lindsey is modeling the ultimate power suit, the real deal – a deceptively simple cotton tee- shirt and pants ensemble, with combat boots and accessories: a dog leash, cigarette, smirk, and “thumbs up” gesture.  She represents Lynndie England, a guard at Abu Ghraib military prison near Baghdad, and symbol of a terrible new twist on sexualized military violence, usually perpetrated by men against women. Lynndie’s gender was deployed in the sexualized humiliation and oppression of male prisoners – a kinder, gentler torturer?  Her race and nation placed her in the dominator role, with Arab men in the victimized “female” role.

Lynndie England was one of the few lower-ranking individuals apprehended and tried for what the world denounced as war crimes, forbidden under the Geneva Conventions, yet condoned and ordered by higher ups in the US military chain of command. Model and designer: Lindsey Kerr











Box Woman

Katie’s attention-grabbing green box outfit tells the story of Jamie Leigh Jones, who was locked inside a storage-container by her employer, Halliburton/KBR -- a military contractor in Iraq. Ms. Jones was drugged and gang raped by co-workers at a camp in Baghdad. After getting to a clinic for tests she was locked in the container, with no food, and placed under armed guard.

U.S. Embassy officials and State Department folks rescued her after her congressman, Ted Poe, called Washington.

Katie carries a cell phone for the sympathetic guard who gave Jamie Leigh a phone that day to call her parents. Her clipboard represents Senator Al Franken’s initiative to ban contracts to companies, like Halliburton, that restrict employees from taking cases of workplace sexual assault and discrimination to court.

Military men, as well as contractors, also rape or assault women colleagues. Last July, Congresswoman Jane Harman testified, “Women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.” Model and designer: Katie Hulse

  direct action fashions

Pink Protest               

Leslie is a member of CODEPINK, a woman-led peace and social justice movement that strives for positive social change through creative protest and nonviolent direct action. Codepink women are skilled thrift shop hunters and experts in layering.  Leslie wears pink yoga pants, teamed with a pink ”Peace with Iran” T-shirt and toning skirt. Her accessories include a Palestinian scarf, political buttons on her father’s Freedom Riders heirloom vest, and a flower garland with hot-pink “Obama Keep Your Promises” ribbons.  Mocking the Bush administration’s fear-based security alerts, CODEPINK is a spirited call to wage peace.  CODEPINK sisters have reclaimed pink as a color of joyful female assertiveness, proud to stand out and speak up. Model and designer: Leslie










Granny Peace Brigade              

Here Beverly is wearing an elegant and ever classic "Basic Black" outfit designed by Laurie Arbeiter from the Critical Voice Collection.  Laurie's inspiration for “We Will Not Be Silent” goes back to the 1938 student movement in Munich, The White Rose Society.  This simple statement of resistance to Fascism and Nazism led a young student Sophie Scholl and several classmates to the guillotine when they would not recant.

Granny Bev dresses up this outfit with photographs of grandchildren, reminding us of our responsibilities to future generations.  Other touches that are particularly useful in Washington circles are the Power of the Purse, the Fan of Peace, and attention-getting black balloons. Model and Designer: Beverly Rice




Samoan Sister

Tereesa wears a traditional dress from Tutuila (Samoa), made from the tentanus plant. In the past, only daughters of high chiefs could wear this dress and only on special occasions.  Samoa had one language and culture.  The islands were divided by Britain and the US, and renamed Western Samoa and American Samoa--these names tell the story right there. The US wanted land for bases and still has a base in American Samoa.  Many Samoan youth serve in the US military. Tereesa says: “Colonization and militarism have affected us badly. As Samoan women we affirm our culture--and want to break out of the parts that were inspired by militarism and colonialism." Model: Tereesa.




Tongan Peacemaker

Sina’s dress represents women in the Tongan culture and is made of traditional Tongan cloth from the mulberry tree. This culture has an emphasis on service, honor, loyalty, and conformity, with a long warrior history that lends itself to a pro-military stance. However, Tongan women continue to break this militaristic mentality.  This dress represents Tongan women’s role as strong and powerful, peacemakers and leaders. Model: Sina Uipi





Let’s Get Moving              

Charlotte’s deep maroon decorated dress represents love and emotion.  It symbolizes the many contradictions in our lives and in the world.  And it suggests harmony, despite complexity, in this coexistence of colors and textures.

This dress cherishes women, respects our bodies, and draws a connection between our hearts, our lives, and the Earth.  Charlotte is wearing her heart on her sleeve – or rather, her arm band -- as a reminder to be motivated and inspired.

Let’s free ourselves and speak out. When people rally together and become a part of something, we are stronger. We learn that people ARE making changes, finding their voices, and doing things! We are creating life and possibility in this very moment.  Model and designer: Charlotte Boesel








Reaching Peace              

Youngju is wearing a gorgeous full-length gown that brings military security together with peace and forgiveness in a fusion of camouflage and color that suggests hope, dynamism, and new possibilities.

The green in her skirt is for harmony, blue offers sanctuary, yellow enlightenment, red for passion and purple for realization and understanding – all needed for peace-making.

The heavy red hand on Youngju’s shoulder suggests destruction and confusion, everything strange, uncomfortable, weakening, and hurtful that is caused by war – including our assumptions, experiences, and memories.

From hem to pleats, to bodice to the final zip, this piece represents the importance of awareness, rediscovery, and forgiveness in reaching peace. Model and designer: Youngju Park