When it comes to knowing how to combine fashion with helping others, Notre Dame senior Alexis Pala has it mastered. Following her experience in Madrid, Spain, Alexis wanted to create an event bringing different campus groups together to help people with disabilities.
Name: Alexis Pala
Role: Fashion Show Director
CollegeFashionista: What is the history of the fashion show?
Alexis Pala: I started this fashion show last year after working for Best Buddies in Madrid who had just put on a really successful show earlier that year. I thought it would be a really good way to spread awareness about the dignity and capabilities people with disabilities. Plus, everyone likes to play dress up!
CF: What inspired you to get involved with helping people with disabilities?
AP: Realizing that I discriminated against my older sister, Lauren, was one of the most enlightening things that has happened to me. Lauren has Down Syndrome and I unconsciously doubted her for the majority of my teenage years. I doubted the capacities that she had simply because she had a disability. Due to this, I wanted to explore the effects of societal perception and stigma on persons with disabilities. Through working with this population I have grown significantly in so many ways and learned about my own humanity and the humanity that I used to doubt in others. The stigmas people hold are often the greatest barriers to the full inclusion of persons with disabilities.
CF: What is the most important thing you learned while planning the fashion show?
AP: I learned that what really matters is the people and the affects that the show had on them. Not only did I learn that this show had positive effects on friends and community members who attended that lacked experience with people with disabilities, but I learned about the positive effects it had on the models and their families. One mom remarked to me that she had never seen her child feel that confident before and was so thankful that she was able to walk in the show.
CF: How would you describe your own style?
AP: I would say my style is a mix, but my friends would say European because I always wear black. I like basic, neutral clothing that you can wear in many ways. Oh and leather, I love leather accented outfits.
CF: Who is your favorite designer and why?
AP: Marc Jacobs and Burberry. They always complement my outfits. Marc Jacobs has a classy grunge and all his handbags are phenomenal and long-lasting. I have had an obsession with Burberry since I was in third grade. I like that it is a brand that always keeps its class and the look is worth the investment since it never gets faddish. For everyday wear I like Zara. Also, I am all about the local boutiques.
Learn More: Check out the website for Best Buddies to learn more about how you can get involved helping people with disabilities!