Most people tend to picture men when they think of heart disease, but it’s the No. 1 cause of death among women in the United States, said Casey Stannard, faculty adviser for Hemline@LSU, a student organization dedicated to promoting fashion at LSU.

She earned her doctorate in apparel design, not cardiology, but Stannard and Hemline promoted heart health awareness among women at Macy’s Red Dress competition, held at the Mall of Louisiana on Jan. 24.

For the second year, Stannard and Delisia Matthews, who is also Hemline’s faculty adviser, challenged students to create fashion using nothing but the red paper hearts distributed to donors of the American Heart Association. Matthews, who holds a doctorate in merchandising, said part of what Hemline aims to do is contribute to the Baton Rouge community, and using fashion to attract attention to an important health topic was a perfect fit.

As part of the challenge, Hemline designers submitted designs, and six of those were chosen for the competition, Stannard said.

On Jan. 24, each designer had four hours to execute her design on a mannequin.

“They were allowed to use some kind of foundation underneath,” Stannard said. “Some chose to use Spanx, and some used Saran wrap, which makes it easy to attach the hearts.”

Each designer was allowed up to 10 percent of material other than the paper hearts, she said. Most were red, though some chose to use the back side of the heart, which was white. “We also found some gold and silver hearts,” Stannard said.

The designers attracted attention as they worked with scissors, tape and hearts in a roped-off section in front of Macy’s, which sponsored the event along with the AHA. Around the booth were signs with facts about heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in women. The signs explained that the death rate for black women is 25 percent higher than for white women, that more women die of heart disease than of all forms of cancer combined and that women, in general, are less likely to call 911 when they are having symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, which leads to delayed treatment and worse outcomes.

The dresses will remain on display for the rest of the week in the mall in front of Macy’s. Winners won gift cards to Macy’s and will attend the AHA’s Go Red for Women luncheon in February.

Winners are: first place, Rebecca Stephens; second place, Amber Constantine; and third place, Whitney Sylvain.

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