DESIGNING WITH A PURPOSE
By Maggie Day
Special to The Sun
Published: Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
A fashion show with a cause will take place Friday in Gainesville. The clothes will be donated by various merchants, local and national designers. The local models will come in all shapes, some with scars, all with courage.
Jacquelyn Brooks helps Kristin Giannis try on the dress Brooks designed for the American Cancer Society event.
What: 18th annual fashion show benefiting the American Cancer Society. This year’s event features a Broadway theme and includes live and silent auctions and a luncheon
When: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Friday
Where: University of Florida Hilton Hotel and Conference Center
Cost: $75 general admission; $100 reserved seating
The American Cancer Society’s 18th annual Cure By Design will take place at the University of Florida Hilton and Conference Center at 11:30 a.m. The event will include a fashion show featuring more than 50 models and cancer survivors; a silent auction, live auction and a luncheon. The event’s theme, “A Toast to Broadway,” will include a big-city production with music from Broadway favorites.
The event typically brings 350 people, said Lauren Kruglanski, publicity co-chair for the event.
This is the first live auction the event has seen, Kruglanski said. It was added to celebrate a local designer who is making a gown to be auctioned off.
Jacquelyn Brooks, 31, is designing the gown with Broadway, among other things, in mind.
Brooks has been sewing since she was 13. Her mother sewed her dresses when she was young, Brooks said. Although she has learned a lot through trial and error, she attributes much of her knowledge to her mother, who she calls a beautiful seamstress.
Brooks is a native to Gainesville with a degree in apparel design from Florida State University.
She owns a boutique, Jacquelyn Brooks Designs, located above Ben and Jerry’s on University Avenue, where she sells jewelry, dog apparel, does alterations and makes dresses.
Brooks is excited to participate in Cure By Design.
“I love it (design), but I want to contribute more. By doing this, it gives it a sense of purpose, a deeper meaning,” she said.
With Broadway in mind, she wanted to create something fit for the occasion but something people a variety of ages would wear. She decided to use a modified version of a technique called Seminole Quilting.
The technique requires small checkers made of different materials, she said.
She was inspired by the technique and modified it to give the dress a one-of-a-kind feel to it, she said. Instead of using a checkered pattern, she is using one-inch strips, of four different fabrics, that will run vertically down the strapless, floor-length dress.
She is happy about the royal blue color. Not only is it beautiful, it pays tribute to the Gators, Brooks said.
“I love color,” she said. She says she never wears black going out. She’s always in color.
Brooks is slightly nervous about the event.
“Being an artist, having your work put out there, is exciting but very nerve-racking because you want people to love it,” she said. “It’s a part of you and makes you vulnerable.”
But the event is more than the dress for her. Cancer has touched her life, too. Her great-aunt and grandmother both battled cancer.
She hopes for the best for the event and her part in it.
“I hope it goes for a lot of money, so the Cancer Society gets a big donation from it,” Brooks said. Brooks’ gown retails at $2,000.
It’s a one-of-a-kind dress, she said.
The model wearing her dress is one-of-a kind as well.
Kristin Giannis, 20, is a UF telecommunications and news broadcasting sophomore, former Miss UF contestant, member of Zeta Tau Alpha, producer and anchor of Tuesday morning’s “Morning Drive” news show on WRUF AM 850, lover of dance and a budding philanthropist.
She is also a skin cancer survivor.
Giannis was 13 when she noticed a mole on her leg getting bigger. She went to the doctor, found it was cancer and had it removed immediately.
“I was scared at first because I was so young, and I didn’t think I would ever have to deal with something like that,” she said.
Giannis goes in for annual checkups but doesn’t let that stop her from living her life.
“I love the outdoors,” she said. Now she always uses sunblock.
Giannis met Brooks during her preparation for her bid for Miss UF. Brooks designed and lent Giannis her dress for the pageant.
It’s a turquoise strapless dress with a chiffon fabric flowing from the legs to the floor that now hangs in Brooks’ boutique.
“She is such a talented designer,” Giannis said.
The two developed a friendship during the process.
Brooks asked Giannis to model her gown for Cure By Design and learned she was a survivor of skin cancer.
Giannis offers the advice to not overexpose yourself to the sun and wear sunblock.
“I still have a small scar that reminds me to be smart about the sun and my skin,” she said.
Cure by Design is sponsored by Shands HealthCare, and all proceeds go to the American Cancer Society. People are encouraged to participate in the silent auction, even if they don’t attend the luncheon.