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Melissa Rodgers Wins 2nd Place in Runway of Dreams

Melissa Rodgers Wins 2nd Place in Runway of Dreams


Immaculata University Fashion Merchandising student Melissa Rodgers ’19 of Sicklerville, NJ, placed 2nd in the 2018 American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) and Runway of Dreams Foundation’s Fashion for All student design competition. Rodgers will receive a $2,500 scholarship for her design.

With the theme of Adaptive Fashion for this year’s competition, Rodgers was challenged to design a clothing or accessory item that reimagines fashion and function that can be adapted for wheelchair users. To address the common issue of bathroom usage when wearing a formal gown, she created Hustle & Bustle, a gown that consists of two pieces (top and bottom). Rodgers inserted elastic drawstrings in the interior seams so the woman can simply pull the drawstring and the back of the skirt rises (the front stays stationary) to make using bathroom facilities much easier. The skirt was designed so that the woman could dress independently by laying it on the wheelchair, sitting down and wrapping it around herself. Another bonus is that the skirt has Velcro closures that make it easier and more adjustable.

In Rodgers’ research she had the opportunity to discuss first-hand what life is like for someone in a wheelchair. Those discussions provided inspiration for the design and allowed for feedback on the gown including incorporating an overlay in the top to prevent cleavage from showing when leaning forward to propel the wheelchair and also creating a sweetheart neckline that would downplay muscular arms and broad shoulders that come from regular usage of a wheelchair.

“I really enjoyed designing this gown and am grateful that this competition gave me the opportunity to put myself in another woman’s shoes and to do my best to understand her daily life,” Rodgers states.

Immaculata University is a Catholic, comprehensive, coeducational institution of higher education, located on the Main Line between Malvern and Exton, 20 miles west of Philadelphia.


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