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Asian-American Celebrations

By Emily Salloway
On March 15, 2011

Nancy Nguyen, the official coordinator of the SKINS Fashion Show, a central event of Brandeis Asian American Students Association's celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, talked a bit about the history of the events and this year's 2011 SKINS Fashion Show, featuring clothing and accessories from Asian-American designers.JustArts: Can you explain your role in organizing APAHM/SKINS?

Nancy Nguyen: I am the official coordinator, which involves anything from contacting and meeting designers, organizing performers and volunteers, devising fundraising methods, having the final say on who models, what our advertising campaign will involve and keeping everything running smoothly until the show, but I get a lot of help from my model coordinators and BAASA [Executive] board.

JA: How long has APAHM been taking place at Brandeis and what are some of the events this year?

NN: BAASA first brought APAHM to Brandeis in 2004, and it's only been getting better and better. This year, some APAHM events started out with a bang (literally) as the Opening Ceremony invited Genki Sparks, an all-female team of taiko drummers, and afterschoolspecial [a musical group popularized by Youtube] to commemorate the month-long celebration. Last Thursday, SASA hosted a Bollywood dance event where they taught attendees how to dance bollywood-style. Some upcoming events include BC3's Bubble Tea Night on March 22; SEAC's Lion Dance and Skit performance, March 23; JSA's Harumatsui, April 2; and BAASA's Closing Ceremony on March 27.

JA: What is special about the SKINS Fashion Show?

NN: SKINS Fashion Show is one of APAHM's biggest events, hosted by BAASA. Every SKINS show memorializes our pride of our Asian-American heritage in our American culture-with style. Especially now when Asian American designers are becoming more prominent in the fashion industry, here at Brandeis we'd like to capitalize on that success and make fellow students aware of this as well. The reason why we feature fellow Brandeis students of all ethnicities in exclusively Asian fashion designers clothing is to express the idea that Asian-American talent can, and does, appeal to a universal audience and to signify the integration of Asian and American cultures. Another reason SKINS is so important is because this is one way Asians are able to express the more creative, artistic side many people don't typically associate Asians with. You know, most Asians are seen as, and often pressured to, science and math fields but there is so much more to us than just numbers and nerdiness.

JA: How do you decide which clothes and models get to be in the show?

NN: We generally try to showcase a wide variety of different styles Asian-American designers encompass. For example, this year we are featuring Shin Choi, Aey Hotarwaisaya, F.O.B. Clothing, Bensoni, and Kim's Fashion. They're all in different stages of their fashion careers and have different styles; Bensoni is an up-and-coming, edgy, feminine line whereas F.O.B. clothing is a local establishment catering to the young urbanites. We try to get people who are really enthusiastic about participating, even if they have zero experience in modeling. Size isn't a factor but shoes and attitude are required.

JA: What is different about this year's show from other years?

NN: Well, this year is actually the first time that BAASA has really taken it up a notch to create an overall theme we want for the month. This year it's "GenerAsian: The Transformation of the Asian American" to signify that our generation of Asian Americans is changing, that we are forming a new identity and meaning behind the word "generation." With this theme, we intend to showcase different aspects of the Asian community. So for SKINS, we decided to embrace theme by promoting with ads that are life sized silhouettes in model poses all over campus. What we're trying to express is how Asian Americans are coming out of the shadows and are ready to display their talents in the spotlight. Plus, the shadows are to keep that mysterious feeling to keep attendees guessing how it'll all turn out ... You'll just have to come to SKINS to find out.

JA: Can you talk a little bit about Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, to which the proceeds are going?

NN: Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center is a organization we feel really exemplifies the meaning of APAHM. BCNC provides resources and services for the Asian immigrant and the Asian American community to integrate into the American society. BCNC helps prolong and promote the essence of APAHM, by serving as a local base of social and financial support for Asians and Asian Americans to make future contributions to America.

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