It’s not every day that you see beautifully crafted clothes made out of condoms, but that is precisely what will be showcased at Ready or Hot: Fashion Meets Passion for Planned Parenthood on February 20.
The couture process begins with design inspiration from Grant Whittaker, Ready or Hot producer and vice president of creative and development at Freestyle Productions. “We’re going into our seventh year of this event. Each year we’re trying to do something different,” explains Grant. “In 2020, we’re focused on upcycling.”
In early January, Grant and Minneapolis-based designer Joy Teiken of Joynoelle first visited Ragstock to pull pieces that would provide an inspirational base for the designs. Since then, Joynoelle has been deconstructing and building couture with the addition of an essential element: condoms provided by ONE® Condoms.
“Every week we pin, tie, and transform the condoms,” says Grant. “Joy is such a great designer; she really thinks of this in a couture way. She includes boning, and we’ve created condom flowers—they are stunning.”
These expertly designed pieces will be showcased on the runway, modeled by community changemakers of all shapes, sizes, and genders. The radical inclusivity of Ready or Hot is one reason Grant passionately works on the event each year, “Ultimately, what inspires me about Planned Parenthood is that it’s an advocate for people who are different, or wanting to understand themselves better.”
Ready or Hot is an authentic fashion show because it’s about people. We are celebrating people and honoring their diversity.Grant Whittaker, Ready or Hot producer
The event is also about destigmatizing conversations about safer sex. “Ready or Hot is a little bit of pomp and circumstance, a little bit of camp, and a great way to break down the social norms that make people avoid talking about safer sex,” explains Grant. “We want people to laugh and have a good time.”
The effort to make it acceptable to talk about sex is an initiative the Condom Couture Sponsor, ONE® Condoms, knows well. The company was founded after Davin Wendel noticed it was taboo to talk about condoms, even in the midst of the AIDS crisis in 1987. To get people talking, the Tufts University student developed a condom matchbook with the school’s mascot and the phrase “A safe Jumbo is a happy Jumbo.” It worked.
Over the years, Davin founded Global Protection Corp. and later launched the ONE® Condoms brand with this continued focus on reducing the stigma around condom use and sexual health. “We ask ourselves: how can we constantly engage people in the conversation?” explains Milla Impola, director of marketing and communications at Global Protection Corp.
The Project CONDOM initiative does just this, which is why for the second year in row, ONE® Condoms is sponsoring the condom couture at Ready or Hot. “I was blown away by last year’s designs,” shares Milla. “You can tell the artists put so much time and effort into thinking about each piece. The event is professional and you can tell everyone is having a great time. It really captured the spirit of the Project CONDOM program: it starts conversations about sexual health in an engaging way, while showcasing what is possible when ONE®’s condom designs meet extraordinary artistic vision. We’re thrilled to partner with Planned Parenthood again this year.”