Becoming a fashion designer is on the wish lists of many teenagers, but for this teenager, it is her only wish. Thanks to Make-A-Wish Metro New York, Cindy, 17, who has spinal muscular atrophy with limited use of her hands, was connected with FIT Fashion Design student Veronica Apsan, 21, so that she could design and make her own fashion collection, and then present it in a small runway show. That show took place at FIT on Saturday, November 14 to an audience of family, friends, and faculty who were on hand to give Cindy feedback on her designs.
While Make-A-Wish, which grants the wishes of young people with life-threatening illnesses, is well known for granting wishes like meeting a beloved pop star or providing a trip to Disneyland, Cindy’s wish to be a designer and see the process through from beginning to end is different. Together, she and Veronica have spent the past year working side by side to create four looks ― a coat, a dress, a pants/blouse ensemble, and a puff skirt/top ensemble. They shopped for fabric, developed the patterns, and made the clothes ― exactly as any fashion designer would. For the aspects that Cindy needed physical help with, Veronica would only work with the fabric or sew under Cindy’s direction.
The fashion show was presented with the help of models from FIT’s Models and Stylists Association, and Aveda for makeup and hair.
For Joseph Plutz, coordinator, Services for Students with Disabilities, the project and event has been a part of raising disability awareness at FIT, as well as an opportunity to present a very different kind of project.
“Cindy and I have really grown together in this experience,” Veronica said. “It’s been life-changing for both of us. Cindy is so talented. I saw her sketchbook and immediately realized she has a vision. I wanted to put all I could into making a difference for her. I feel like this really boosted her self-esteem, and that she feels like a new person with her talent. She may not even have known how talented she is!”