Mount Mary fashion designers go red for women’s health

Mount Mary fashion students, alums and faculty are competing for limited spots on the runway for an all-red fashion event to benefit the American Heart Association on March 7.

In partnership with New York’s Fashion Week and America’s top fashion designers, the red dress was launched as the national symbol for women and heart disease in February 2003. With February known as Heart Month, the Fashion Week show raised national awareness about the issue of women and heart disease, reminding the public that heart disease and stroke cause one in three women’s deaths each year, killing one woman every 80 seconds.

The American Heart Association has hosted the event as the Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection with Macy’s as the presenting sponsor since 2014. Similar Red Dress Collection events have been held across the country in support of the American Heart Association.

Donna Ricco ‘81, a nationally recognized dress designer who now works as an Executive Fellow advisor for Mount Mary, has worked with the designers throughout the process. Donna has advised students, from the sketch phase through the muslin pattern-making process, and has held multiple fittings and critique sessions to make sure the dresses are well-constructed and done on time.

“I’m excited for our design students to participate in the Red Dress Competition. It’s a chance for them to gain practical experience and get real-life feedback so they can learn the process of creating and producing fashion that we follow in the industry,” said Donna.

Designers have been working on their pieces since early winter. Students were tasked with identifying their customers, end uses for their designs, and coming up with 10-20 rough sketches. After reviews with Ashley Brooks, chair of the fashion department, and Donna Ricco, students began working in muslin before designing their dresses in the final fabrics. The competition is an extra-curricular activity and provides students an additional experience to enhance their portfolios. 

The top three dresses will be awarded a feature in the windows of one of Faye’s boutiques and a highlighted segment in the 2019 CREO student designer fashion show. The winning dresses will also be displayed in Caroline Hall located on the Mount Mary campus.

Efforts from the event will go toward preventing heart disease and stroke through the Go Red for Women movement. 

The dresses will be juried on Thursday, February 28 by a panel of experts who will select the finalists for the show. The Red Dress Collection fashion event will be held at the Italian Community Center on March 7 at 5:30 pm. For more information, visit