From a 23-year-old soldier to an 84-year-old Korean War vet, 15 female veterans from all branches of the military recently were treated to new custom-designed gowns made by students of Salt Lake Community College’s Fashion Institute. In recognition of Veterans Day, the gowns were modeled by the vets during the annual Women Veterans Celebration, featuring the “Grit To Glamour: Warrior To Woman” fashion show at Zions Bank in Salt Lake City. SLCC students also provided hair and makeup services for the veterans as well as organizing the fashion show.
SLCC student Charlie Fratto designed the gown worn by veteran Amanda Turner.
Design student Charlie Fratto, 22, made a dress for Air Force Senior Airman Amanda Turner, who has worked with wounded soldiers at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. “Being a veteran,” she says, “means stepping up to the call to honor those who have served and offered their lives for this country.” Fratto designed Turner’s floor-length gold gown with full sleeves and a high neckline. All of the veterans were able to keep the dresses they wore in the fashion show.
“Right when Mojdeh (Sakaki, SLCC Fashion Institute director) told us about the project, I didn’t hesitate one second,” Fratto said. “I was like, yes, sign me up—I want to do this. If I can use my talents to say ‘Thank you,’ then it makes me so happy.” Fratto said Turner, a 25-year-old mother, allowed him to design using his “aesthetic” with an eye toward outfitting a strong, confident woman. He was grateful for the experience of working directly with a “client” in a real-world setting outside of the classroom environment. “She was such a great sport about everything,” Fratto said. “It turned out absolutely beautiful, but she also feels great in the dress—and as long as she feels beautiful, then I’m happy.”
Female veterans show off their custom-made gowns.
Sakaki told veterans that students worked long hours volunteering to make the dresses. “I appreciate the opportunity for our students to be able to serve you,” she said. “You have served our country, and we have been able to give back to you a little bit.” Sakaki said each dress took six or seven fittings to get it just right. “I’m very proud of them,” she added. “I’m proud they wanted to give, that they wanted to make a difference. And as beautiful as these ladies are on the inside, we can see that they are beautiful on the outside as well.”
SLCC President Deneece G. Huftalin earlier in the evening said beauty is more than what we see in the mirror. “The female veterans here tonight represent the nearly 15 percent of active duty military members who are women, and the population of female veterans grows more every day,” Huftalin said. “Brave, courageous women are today reaching some of the highest levels of command in the military, weaving what I might describe as a unique hybrid of beauty throughout the fabric of our male-dominated armed forces.”
SLCC TV interviews designer Trung Tham before the fashion show.