In September 2019, Amanda Nguyen (an activist and 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominated nominee) sat front row during New York Fashion Week. She heard attendees ask each others over and over again. “What are you wearing?”In the context, the question is both innocent and joyful. fashion, but as a rape survivor, Nguyen couldn’t help thinking about how hostile it felt when she’d been asked the same thing by law enforcement.
It clicked: What if survivors could reclaim those words and walk proudly in whatever clothes they chose?
The idea for the Survivor Fashion Show was born.
Rise was founded by Nguyen, a non-profit organization that supports survivors of sexual assault. After her college assault, Nguyen founded Rise after realizing how traumatizing and flawed the legal system was. Since its inception in 2014, they’ve helped to pass 42 laws federally, and now they’ve set their sights on making an impact globally, including hosting survivor town halls at the United Nations and meeting with the Vatican.
Referring to the U.N. “Originally we wanted to do this last year at the United Nations, but then Covid hit. It’s okay, we’re at the MoMA!”Nguyen exclaimed excitedly last night. Nguyen stepped out in a custom ao di (a traditional Vietnamese gown) and wore the Survivor Bill of Rights printed on it. It was the first federal law she had ever succeeded in convincing Congress to approve show We presented an award to Victoria Sulimani for her advocacy.
Chanel Miller is a writer and activist.
Terry Crews opened the show In a dark suit. A mix of survivors, activists, and allies were also represented by the models, including Chanel Miller in a printed flowing Veronica Beard gown, Kelly Marie Tran wearing a cobalt-blue jumpsuit, and Kweku Mandela (grandson of Nelson Mandela) in black trousers and a striped poncho. With the help of brands like Chloe, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and Veronica Beard, models wore what felt most true to their style and walked down to the cheers of the audience.”Tonight was about reclaiming our power and saying no to victim blaming,” said Nguyen.
“Previously for interviews I felt the pressure to be composed, and I refrained from showing hints of personality. Amanda made a runway where we could be authentically ourselves and the only rule was to walk with your head held high,”Miller said that Miller was speaking after the show. “I spent so long shielding myself and this was an opportunity to walk with survivors in front and behind me.”
Nguyen was reached this morning, she says. “I’m grateful, empowered from last night. I can’t wait to do this again in September 2022 and every year after that.”
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