Gown Gala not your ordinary fashion show
There’s nothing unusual about a fashion event in which models take to the catwalk in a new range of gowns for women, right?
Right. Unless, that is, you’re talking about the gala show with a twist held by Waitemata District Health Board on June 11.
The event, at North Shore Squash Club’s Lakeside Café, showcased eight prototype gowns designed for women to wear when undergoing breast screening or mammography in the Waitemata area (pictured here - audience members were able to vote on eight prototype mammography gown designs).
Waitemata DHB has been working with patients, Unitec, BreastScreen Waitemata Northland, New Zealand fashion designer Annah Stretton, and the Centre for Compassion in Healthcare to come up with a new gown design.
Project manager Hilary Boyd of Waitemata DHB says the eight prototypes are the work of 16 second year students from Unitec’s Product Design Degree course.
“The students have spoken with women who use our BreastScreen and mammography services and they’ve visited our facilities so they understand the process,” Ms Boyd says. “Then they’ve identified the shortcomings of the existing gowns and come up with more user-friendly alternatives.”
The Unitec students have looked at aspects such as comfort and warmth, size and fit, ease of medical access, suitability for mobility impaired patients, material type, and how easy the gowns are to put on and take off.
In what has been a highly collaborative project, five Year 11 Material Technology students from North Shore’s Carmel College have also played an important role, taking less than five days to sew the garments that hit the catwalk.
“Women can already be at an emotional low when undergoing these procedures, without feeling further exposed by the garment they are asked to wear,” Ms Boyd says.
“If we can support their dignity by producing something that’s practical and stylish to wear, then hopefully women will be more comfortable during what can be a daunting process.”
Ms Boyd says patient involvement in the project has been critical, ensuring the final designs represent garments that will function well for both women and medical staff.
Currently a one-size-fits-all hospital gown is used for mammograms performed in hospital while another design is used by BreastScreen Waitemata Northland.
It is hoped that the new gown design will supersede both of these.
The gala show audience had the chance to evaluate the designs and vote for the gown they thought most innovative, most practical and most beautiful.
The award for the most practical design went to a wrap-around, side-tying garment with contrasting lapel and sleeve trim (pictured at left) while this Audrey Hepburn-inspired cape gown (pictured at right) was voted most beautiful and most innovative by those who attended the June gown gala.
Further refinement work will now take place to arrive at one final gown design.
Every year 10,000 Waitemata women undergo breastscreening at BreastScreen Waitemata Northland facilities. A further 5000 women undergo mammographies, ultrasounds and breast biopsies at North Shore Hospital.
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Story and photographs supplied by Waitemata District Health Board's Mammography Gown Design Project team. For more information, contact Hilary Boyd: email@example.com