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IOWA Magazine | 05-24-2023

Walk it Out Fashion Show Celebrates Iowa's Cultural Threads

1 minute read
The annual UI student event packs the IMU to spotlight international style.
Surbhi Saxena PHOTO: JASON SMITH Surbhi Saxena models on the runway during the annual Walk It Out Multicultural Fashion Show this past spring in the Iowa Memorial Union.

The music thumped, the spotlight glowed, and the models worked the runway. The annual Walk It Out Multicultural Fashion Show brought together some of the University of Iowa’s most talented student designers and dancers for a night of international style this past spring inside the Iowa Memorial Union. The event was a fusion of modern and traditional fashion and music from an array of cultures, including African, South and East Asian, Latin American, LGBTQ +, and hip-hop.

“What’s great about Walk It Out is that we have so many different, culturally specific organizations on campus, but seeing how they can connect with each other and building that bridge is what makes it so special,” explains Shivani Manikandan, who served as vice president on the event’s executive committee.

Erica Coulibaly PHOTO: JASON SMITH UI student Erica Coulibaly shares her style during the annual Walk It Out Multicultural Fashion Show this past spring in the Iowa Memorial Union.

The Black Student Union, Asian American Coalition, and Indian Student Alliance founded the event in 2009 to showcase the UI’s rich diversity. Since then, the fashion show has grown into a yearly tradition and one of the most popular student-organized events on campus.

Shivani Manikandan PHOTO: JASON SMITH Shivani Manikandan takes the mic at a UI fashion show that promotes cultural awareness.

Manikandan, who graduated in May with a degree in biochemistry, was vice president of Iowa’s Indian Student Alliance this past year. She says the fashion show not only connects students from diverse backgrounds, but also serves as a creative outlet.

Israa Abdallah PHOTO: JASON SMITH Israa Abdallah models during the annual Walk It Out Multicultural Fashion Show this past spring in the Iowa Memorial Union.

“Putting together the music and outfits, and accessorizing with things like henna art, is always interesting,” she says. “It’s such a rewarding experience to be able to build community in a safe space, especially when things are super stressful with school and political climates.”

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Join our email list
Get the latest news and information for alumni, fans, and friends of the University of Iowa.
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