This year, Eclectic Eye had the pleasure of sponsoring and participating in Condomonium for Memphis Choices. Condomonium is an annual public awareness event and spectacular celebration that includes a design contest, runway competition, silent auction, dance party and more. This is the biggest fundraiser for Choices, and one of the most fun events to attend in Memphis.
Choices is a local nonprofit organization that provides health care, education and policy advocacy for reproductive health and rights in Memphis. Choices’ vision is to fundamentally change the way reproductive health care is provided and perceived in our community. Treating each patient with self-respect and dignity, the organization actively embraces those who experience unique obstacles in both education and health care access, including non-English speakers, youth, LGBTQIA+, all racial/ethnic/cultural communities and people with diverse capabilities.Eclectic Eye applauds Choices’ mission to offer everyone the care they need with empathy and compassion.
After participating in Memphis Pride last year, I believe the Eclectic Eye team can do anything. With no experience, we all worked together to make a fabulous float to celebrate Memphis’ diverse community, and we worked toward a similar goal for this event. I have attended Condomonium for the past three years, and when Robbie mentioned that Eclectic Eye would be sponsoring again this year, I asked the team if they would be interested in designing with me. Randall immediately volunteered to be our “runway model,” and Shannon, Lindy and myself started brainstorming ideas.
Condomonium has a different theme every year, from superheroes to the great Greek Mythology. This year’s theme was “The Future is Fierce: Roaring into the 20s with Choices.” We immediately decided to go with a 1920s flapper-inspired dress. Each designer is given 300 condoms to use for their design. We quickly found out that working with latex rubber was more challenging than we had initially expected. I quickly developed tremendous respect for the incredible volunteer designers that work extremely long hours creating amazing garments out of this unconventional material.
The event was held at The Columns in Downtown Memphis March 31. The Eclectic Eye team had an amazing time watching the acrobatic aerial performers greet guests and pour champagne while suspended from a silk cloth 20 feet up in the air. We laughed at local Memphis comedian, Richard Douglas Jones, and the queen of Memphis, Goldie Dee, as they co-hosted the runway show. The silent auction was located in the basement of The Columns, inside the building’s original vault. There were also activities like stilts and a photo booth by Amurica, as well as wonderful food and drinks.
Each design in the show was eligible to win Judges’ Choice, Most On-Theme and Best Use of Condoms. This year’s judges were: Abby Phillips, creator of Memphis Fashion Design Network; Bruce Bui, Wardrobe Director of Ballet Memphis; and John Michael Alderson, Director of Development and Community Engagement at Friends For Life. There was also a “People’s Choice” award, determined via mobile voting by attendees.
All in all, it was an unforgettable night, and Choices was able to raise nearly $50,000 to provide financial assistance to their patients. We love supporting local organizations that work to bring positive change in our community and look forward to next year!
To learn more about Taylor Hein and other members of the Eclectic Eye staff, head over to our team page!