September is all about fashion, fashion, fashion. Fashion Week in New York, Fashion Week in London, Fashion Week in Milan and Fashion Week in Paris, each taking place on the heels of the previous fashion week, is sweeping what seems to be a phenomenon. everyone’s TikTok and Instagram feeds.
But September is also National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and with some of the greatest designers of our time, Alexander McQueen, for example, being victims of suicide, the fashion industry can’t stay out of the conversation either.
Designer Alexandra Nyman wants to lead it.
as editor-in-chief of Sovelocitya platform dedicated to sober living, and designer of her own brand lady catNyman combines her passion for both the worlds of mental health and fashion with her landmark fashion show event, Break Free NYFW.
“One of the most important things for me is being able to be an outlet for people to share their stories and experiences and help them feel empowered,” Nyman said. outside“The most influential is listening to others who have reached the other side.”
On Saturday, September 10 (World Suicide Prevention Day), designers, activists, models, and educators all gathered in Manhattan’s Lower East Side to break free from mental health stigma and start discussing suicide prevention and substance abuse. did.
The showcase features four designers, each tied to their own philosophies. project runwayof Helen Castillo. Mental health and body positivity activist Lenny Cafaro. Up-and-coming designer Ashley Alt. Brooklyn-based designer Dynasty Casanova.
“I did a show at New York Fashion Week and found the experience of many shows very exhausting and too stimulating,” Castillo said. “Break Free felt the opposite. Everyone was encouraging each other, including the models and volunteers.”
Nyman first learned the importance of mental health awareness when he saw first-hand his siblings struggle with mental health as a result of growing up gay in an ultra-conservative Christian household.
Nyman recalls that the priest’s solution to “being gay” was an age-old story before he realized he was bisexual.
“‘Heaven’ is yours so long as you fight those impulses,” she said of the priest’s teachings. The depths of the will take you away.”
So, much like many LGBTQ+ youth find themselves in ultra-religious environments, the Nyman brothers quickly found themselves in a dark place. The location has led to multiple suicide attempts.
“He had an overwhelming sense of dread that didn’t go away,” Nyman said. (LGBTQ+ people are eight times more likely to attempt suicide if they lack support from family and friends, according to Save.org.)
Fortunately, Nyman’s brother had her.
“In our small town in Pennsylvania, there were absolutely no services for this. That’s kind of how I was driven to learn about mental health.”
In addition to educating herself, Nyman has focused on fashion as a form of healing and has created a collection to help fund The Trevor Project, an organization working to prevent suicide among LGBTQ+ youth.
“It got me thinking: What if I could do my own showcase with the voices of designers and models, and put together a scholarship program to send individuals to rehabilitation centers?”
Fast-forward to Saturday and her “what if” came true at her second NYFW event, this time honoring September as National Recovery Month and National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
As an inclusive space for both fashion lovers and those struggling with mental health issues, all proceeds from the event will go to 10,000 Beds, a non-profit organization dedicated to the recovery and support of those seeking treatment for substance abuse. In partnership, a donation was made to the Break Free Foundation scholarship fund.
Nyman’s call to action for others in the industry is simple.
“Everyone and their mothers love to support their mental health in May, and June also sees everyone making their Facebook profiles rainbow,” said Nyman. increase. “We want more designers, more brands to actually really care and really tell their story.”
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