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ART BEAT: Gwinnett teen creates unique fashions from paper

Dana Gabrielle Jones, 13, began her career as a fashion designer at a young age. This eighth-grader at Couch Middle School has traveled to Paris and Italy in an effort to gain inspiration for her fashions. Recently, she was included in a very exciting event, "Papers, Fashion for a Cause," held at the Hickman Student Center at Morris Brown College in Atlanta on Oct. 23.

This fashion show of creations made of paper was held in support of the group "Young Survival Coalition." Dana hand-crafted five tutus for child models ages 4 to 7. Tutus are special for Dana. Along with her fashion activities, she is a dancer with Lawrenceville School of Ballet.

"My main reason for participating in the paper fashion show was to celebrate the breast cancer survivors and to help raise money to find a cure for breast cancer," Jones said. "My math enrichment teacher was recently diagnosed, and I also lost my Sunday school teacher and aunt to this disease. I named two of my garments in memory of them."

The fashion show consisted of four scenes: sportswear, tutus, wedding and evening wear. Dana's creations were all tutus.

"My favorite tutu that I named 'Tissues for My Tears' is a pink and black tutu with Kleenex tissue overlay and a tissue flower on the bodice," she said. "My second favorite is named 'No Laughing Matter' and was made up of the comic section of the newspaper, an old pair of denim capri pants and white tulle."

Dana also created tutus in memory of her Sunday school teacher and aunt. Another tutu was titled "Cupcakes and Cheerios" was made of white cupcake holders, recycled buttons and Cheerios.

"I spent two weeks constructing the tutus," Jones said. "I used my design and sewing experience to glue, tape and sew the materials. My uncle donated $40 to help buy the materials, and my family encouraged me every day to work for a few hours on each garment until they were finished."

The fashion show had about 300 attendees, including a group of survivors who wore black with pink corsages. There was also a performance by the Morris Brown Band.

"People were impressed with the creativity of my garments," she said. "The event coordinators encouraged me to continue displaying my talents using art and fashion."

Catrina Jones is understandably proud of her daughter. "I feel so honored to have such a wonderful young teenage daughter who is passionate about finding a cure for breast cancer. Watching her prepare long hours while keeping up her studies and extracurricular activities was amazing. My heart is glad to see that she has found a mechanism to share her inward thoughts with the world through creativity, fashion and design."

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.