Blog > Kelowna Fashion Design Students create Red Dresses in Support of Heart and Stroke Foundation Event

Kelowna Fashion Design Students create Red Dresses in Support of Heart and Stroke Foundation Event


All Hands were on deck this past Saturday at the Kelowna Regional Library to execute a stylish event. Students from the fashion design and merchandising course at the Centre for Arts and Technology Kelowna were on hand to put the finishing touches on their one-of-a-kind red dresses, created with love, in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation “Heart Truth” event. The beautifully handcrafted red dresses were on display before the fashion show to encourage attendees to bid on them, with all proceeds going to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Heart and Stroke Foundation representative Jessica Samuels was present to provide some sobering facts about heart health to the audience. The evening was targeted to bring awareness specifically to women’s heart health, an often overlooked disease affecting all women; from mothers and grandmothers to sisters and daughters.

But overall the evening had a lighthearted and upbeat atmosphere with models wearing smiles to complement their red attire. The women showcasing the dresses were not your average runway models; all had a close connection to heart health, either personally or through a friend or family member. The model lineup even included some local celebs like Wesla Wong  and Toby Tannas (Global Okanagan).  This meant that our up and coming fashion designers had to custom make each and every gown to flatter and fit their specific models. This has been a labor of love for fashion design college department head Suzette van Bakel and her students; it was apparent that this event was truly meaningful to them. They all have been working diligently to create memorable dresses that showcase their unique style sensibilities while flattering their assigned models.

Backstage of the event was like any other fashion show; the models ran frantically around for fittings and final touches, the designers checked and rechecked their garments to ensure perfection, the sounds and lights were tested and tested again, and in the front of house the audience waited with baited breath.  Each model appeared at the top of a grand set of stairs and was safely escorted down by male volunteers, one quick turn at the bottom of the stairs and on to the runway they went. Models showed their personality with flirty turns and spins, highlighting the quality of the stylish red dresses.

Update (Quote from Jessica Samuels | Heart ad Stroke Foundation Area Manager)

“Thank you so much for making The Heart Truth Kelowna: Red Dress Event such a success.  Together, we raised $25,000 and we could not have done it without you. 

This money will support our efforts to combat cardiovascular disease through prevention, early intervention, and effective treatment.  It will also help educate and empower women, through the Heart Truth Campaign that heart disease and stroke is one of the leading killers of women and by making some lifestyle changes… we can change this.

The support and enthusiasm for this year’s event that we received from the Centre for Arts and Technology was one of the driving forces of our success. Without the involvement of the school and the dedication of Suzette and the students this year’s show, I truly believe, would not have touched so many people with our message of putting women’s health first.

Again, thank you so much and hope you join us next year! The dresses really made the event!”


Jessica Samuels

Area Manager, Okanagan/ Kootenays

To see images from the event please see our Facebook Album.