NEWS | January 28, 2019

Banners featuring student-designed red dresses on display at the State Capitol

Unique medicine-design partnership raises awareness of heart disease in women

red dress banner

The countdown to American Heart Month in February started today with a display in the State Capitol of banners highlighting student-designed dresses from the UC Davis Red Dress Collection.

Located in the annex on the east side of the building near the Governor’s Office, the display will be up for passersby to enjoy through Friday of this week — National Wear Red Day® and day one of Heart Month.

The collection is part of a unique partnership of the Women’s Cardiovascular Medicine Program (WCVMP) and UC Davis Department of Design to encourage women of all ages to live heart-healthy lives. The banners represent the wide range of esthetic and personal perspectives the collection encompasses.

Mai Vang’s dress, for instance — called “Golden Traditions” — blends traditional Hmong and modern styles to represent the need to link the past with the present in fighting heart disease.

“Today, through advances in medicine and technology, the Hmong community has been given a golden opportunity to merge modern science with their faith in herbal and spiritual healing,” Vang wrote in her design statement. “This red dress is a symbol of that alliance.”

New dresses are added to the collection each year thanks to design department lecturer and museum curator Adele Zhang, who mentors the student designers. Today, ten years since it launched, the collection includes more than 60 beautiful tributes to heart health and support year-round education efforts of the WCVMP.

“The red dress has been tremendously effective on a national scale in educating women that heart disease is their leading health threat, and our collection reinforces that message among younger women and within our own community,” said cardiologist Amparo Villablanca, director and founder of the WCVMP. “We are happy to share some of the dresses and the important educational messages they convey with State Capitol employees and visitors.”

The entire collection can be viewed together with the designers’ statements and information about heart disease prevention for women at womenshearthealth.ucdavis.edu.