Forget silk or sequins: paper was the material of choice for Erinne Paisley who transformed old homework into a statement-making grad dress.
The Victoria student had planned to buy a normal dress for her recent high school graduation. But as the event drew near, her thoughts turned to girls who didn’t have access to education and what she could do to bring awareness to their plight.
“I thought it would be a great time to try to redirect the energy and attention of graduation back to an organization and a movement that’s trying to provide the same opportunity to girls,” Paisley, 18, said in a phone interview.
Using old math notes and plenty of tape, Paisley worked with her friend, Emily Faris, for more than seven hours straight assembling the final product, which also included straps fashioned from black satin.
“I thought using my homework would be a very visual and real representation of everything I’ve had the opportunity to put into my education, and everything I’ve received from it, and how valuable and how powerful an education really can be,” said Paisley, who will be studying international relations at the University of Toronto this fall on a full four-year scholarship.
She wrote on the dress: “I’ve received my education. Not every woman has that right.”
She also included the website for the Malala Fund on the creation and donated funds she would have spent on a proper dress to the cause.
The Malala Fund is aimed at helping to empower girls through education. It was co-founded by Pakistani education activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban while returning from school.
Paisley has set up an online auction for the dress on GoBid.ca to raise money for the charity. As of Thursday afternoon, the highest bid was $600.
Paisley admitted the creation was uncomfortable to wear and she wound up changing into an “emergency dress” when she sat down for dinner and it started to rip slightly.
Paisley said she’s received an incredible response to her custom creation.
“At first, most people were confused or curious and definitely approached me asking what it was about, which is great; because a conversation was started that definitely needs to be had.”
Online auction for Malala Paper Dress:
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Lauren La Rose, The Canadian Press