Student creates inclusive fashion show to ‘Express Yourself’

Throw on your favorite outfit and strut your moves at the Gender and Sexuality Center’s first Express Yourself Fashion Show tonight.

Nate Vaccaro, coordinator of the show, explained that it’s an all-inclusive event where people can wear whatever they want with an audience to cheer and support them on.

“I really wanted to create an event that kind of just focused on radical self-expression,” Vaccaro said. “I just wanted to see what people would do with it – I hope people get into it and they really come out and express themselves.”

Vaccaro explained that he came up with the idea for the event after he participated as a volunteer in the URI Hillel Israeli fashion show earlier this year. The clothes resembled the historical period and although he had the chance to experience runway action, he wanted to go with something that was more of his style. Rather than giving people clothes to wear at the Express Yourself Fashion Show, students can wear any piece of clothing they’d like to present.

Additionally, Vaccaro said there is an annual “drag ball” every year with a lot of positive responses toward it, which was just another reason to start this fashion show. Although this event is not a drag show, Vaccaro expects a few students to dress in drag – some of them for their first time.

“I’m someone who just loves to get dressed up and I love people to see me when I’m dressed up, so I assume there’s at least other people out there who do,” Vaccaro said. “I really want this to be a space where all art forms and self-expression is honored and showcased.”

Vaccaro is a very expressive person and explained that he presents himself in a very “in-your-face” and “out-loud” type of way. He said that he wears lots of bright colors, clothes from the men’s and women’s section and things that can “sometimes raise people’s eyebrows.”

“I’m all about kind of challenging the boxes that people put each other in consciously and unconsciously,” Vaccaro said. “Lately, I’ve been struggling with body image and I really wanted to create a space where everybody felt like they were celebrated, they were valued and they had a place to come and celebrate the parts of themselves that they wanted to be seen.”

Even if you are just a member of the audience, you’re going to be a part of a very unique experience, Vaccaro explained. He encourages people to walk the runway even if they’re in their everyday clothes, just to get a sense of confidence.

“It’s self-care to have a moment and just say, ‘I love myself, I love being me. There’s no one else like me out there,’ and that deserves to be seen and recognized,” Vaccaro said. “Not only is it self-care to present yourself like that, but it’s also very rewarding to see people in that very natural, confident state.”

This is the first time the fashion show will take place on campus, but Vaccaro hopes it will become an annual event in future years. The Gender and Sexuality Center is also launching their ongoing clothing drive and will be accepting donations for students and the general community who are in need of clothes.

Express Yourself Fashion Show will take place in the multi-purpose room of the Gender and Sexuality Center. Admission is free and everyone is welcome to model. For more information, visit http://web.uri.edu/gender-sexuality/ and sign up to model at http://bit.ly/2pfiBwx