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Fashioning Cancer: Project Creates Ball Gowns Inspired by Cells

A University of British Columbia costume design professor has created a collection of ball gowns inspired by photos of cancer cells.

. A University of British Columbia costume design professor has created a collection of ball gowns inspired by photos of cancer cells with the goal of spurring discussion about “the disease, beauty, and body image” and creating alternative imagery for discussions of cancer that go beyond the pink ribbon, according to UBC. Left: Astrocytes cells from the brain ensure that neurons remain healthy. These cells are stained to show their filamentous 'cytoskeleton' which determines their shape as well as impacting their ability to move. In cancer cells, the more they move, the more aggressive the disease. Right: UBC Opera student Chelsi Walsh wears a Red silk taffeta strapless full length gown with yarn and eyelash top.

Learn more about the project here John Bechberger, Christian Naus / Tim Matheson / University of British Columbia

. Left: Astrocytes from the brain growing in a culture dish. Green color indicates the cytoskeleton of these cells; red color shows specific membrance channels (gap junctions); blue color indicates the cell nuclei (DNA). The ability to grow cells in a dish has contributed to our understanding of the changes theses cells undergo when they become cancerous. Right: BFA Acting student Mercedes de la Zerta wears a black organza cap sleeve with sheer top and multicolour organza diagonal trim. John Bechberger, Christian Naus / Tim Matheson / University of British Columbia

. Left: A brain tumor (glioma) growing in a culture dish. Individual cells are actively moving away from the tumor mass (black area) recapitulating what they do when invading the brain. Right: Helena Fisher-Welsh, a UBC BFA Acting student, wears a grey silk organza gown with black trim. Wun Chey Sin, Christian Naus / Tim Matheson / University of British Columbia

. Left: Brain cancer cells showing interaction of two proteins--gap junction channels (green) and a cell growth factor (red). Yellow indicates areas of the cell where both proteins interact. These types of interactions between proteins are critical in processes which can transform normal cells into cancer. Right: BFA Acting student Katherine McLaughlin wears a purple satin halter gown with feather underskirt and diagonal purple rosettes with shredded bias streamers. Christian Naus, Christine Fu / Tim Matheson / University of British Columbia

. Left: Astrocytes growing in a culture dish. Blue dye indicated the nuclei (DNA); green colour shows the location of gap junction channels which link the cells in a metabolic community. These channels are important in controlling the normal growth of cells; their disruption can promote cancer development. Right: Sarah Roa, a BFA Acting student, wears a black velvet halter gown with sequins and beads. Hoa Le, Christian Naus / Tim Matheson / University of British Columbia

. Left: Astrocytes growing in a culture dish. Blue dye indicated the nuclei (DNA); green colour shows the location of gap junction channels which link the cells in a metabolic community. These channels are important in controlling the normal growth of cells; their disruption can promote cancer development. Right: Bronwyn Malloy, a UBC Alumna & now McGill MA English student, wears a green silk charmeuse gown with blue rosettes and dark green hem. Hoa Le, Christian Naus / Tim Matheson / University of British Columbia

. Left: Brain tissue showing an area injury (faded red) which is filled with dying neurons (stained green). As cancers progress the normal cells die as part of disease progression. Right: Rebecca Burks, a UBC BFA Theatre Production & Design student, wears a black silk taffeta gown with red watered silk taffeta. Moises Freitas-Andrade, Christian Naus / Tim Matheson / University of British Columbia