Condom Fashion Commemorates World AIDS Day 2023 - ONE®

Condom Fashion Commemorates World AIDS Day 2023

As a brand, ONE® is passionate about developing the latest technologies and manufacturing high quality pleasure products. We’re also focused on destigmatizing all of the so-called “uncomfortable conversations,” providing education about sexual health topics, increasing access to contraception in communities where these products are not widely available, and working with artists and advocates to raise awareness. We believe in the power of art, a medium we have always believed helps start conversations about sexual health. That’s why Art of ONE® and our Project Condom program – where we help organizations host condom fashion shows – are really close to our heart. 

To shine a spotlight on a specific community we love, the Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health commemorated World AIDS Day on December 1st with public landmarks illuminated by red lights and the launch of the I’m+LA program for individuals affected by HIV. Additionally, the county not only partnered with social media influencers that published posts with respect to World AIDS Day, but they too took part in posting their own series of educational social posts on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook. There were also public events within the community specifically focused on World AIDS Day, some of which featured thought-leaders and guest speakers. Read more about the commemoration of World AIDS Day in LA County DPH’s press release. 

Combining fashion and public health, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health partnered with Gunnar Deatherage on a condom dress. The red-carpet-ready dress was handcrafted entirely from expired ONE Condoms (donated by LA County’s Department of Public Health) and fabric – a truly jaw-dropping creation  for the fashion and “condom couture” industries. Check out the dress on YouTube and Instagram.

The designer behind the masterpiece, Gunnar Deatherage, is a local, yet widely-known designer within the fashion industry from Los Angeles. Gunnar was featured on not only Season 10 of Project Runway, but also Season 4 of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.

Read below to see what Gunnar had to say about this dress!

What inspired you to create a condom dress?
As a gay man, growing up, the AIDS crisis was something I was aware of, and I think we’re in a place now where information is power, and my medium is fashion, so it felt like a no brainer for me to transform all of the expired condoms into a piece that could further advance the knowledge of World AIDS Day.

What do you hope this project teaches people about safer sex?
I’m really hoping that the message that there are free resources available gets out. I really love that LA County can provide them. Condoms can be really expensive as well, so the fact that they can be obtained for people is really incredible.

ONE® Condoms has a program called Project Condom that partners with colleges & organizations to host condom fashion shows. Do you have any tips for people aspiring to make their own condom dress/garment?
Yes! Hot glue does not work ha ha! Truly though, I think that finding out of the box and creative ways to attach them to another fabric is definitely the way to go. They have their own set of hurdles to jump overcome to engineer a garment.

What was the most difficult part of working with condoms as a creative material?
I have sensory issues, and I really had to jump a few mental hurdles to unwrap and manipulate 1200 of them.

How long did it take you to complete this dress?
This dress took me about 18 hours of work time.

What was your favorite part of creating a condom dress and working with the LA County Department of Public Health?
Truly, the reception of my audience was incredible and encouraging! Those moments are the reason I love to create!

Black toole dress decorated with condoms in the shape of medallions and roses all spray painted gold leading up the dress and around the shoulders
We reached out to the LA County Department of Public Health to ask what conversations they hoped would stem from their condom dress partnerships with Gunnar, and another designer, Page Person. They told us they hoped to start conversations regarding the importance of HIV and STD testing through positive sexual health messaging. Additionally, the LA County DPH also encourages people to visit for sexual health information and resources.

We were curious to know if LA County had any other initiatives or resources as well. And they sure do! The LA County Department of Public Health has the Division of HIV and STD Programs (DHSP) which “works closely and collaboratively with community-based organizations, advocates, and people with HIV to end the HIV and STD epidemics. As part of this work, DHSP supports a comprehensive portfolio of initiatives related to expanding access to HIV/STD testing and screening, increasing access points and programs that offer and pay for PrEP (the medication that reduces the risk of getting HIV by 99%), ensuring rapid treatment for people with HIV (if they reach an undetectable viral load they cannot transmit HIV), and monitors and rapidly responds to HIV outbreaks in the community to link people to necessary prevention and treatment resources.”

Visit the LA County Public Health website for more information or resources.
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