Tailored clothes made with hospital bed sheets. It is with these symbolic garments that 15 cancer patients will parade this afternoon, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, at the Almo Collegio Borromeo in Pavia. And sculptures will be projected onto their white silhouettes, so as to become works of art themselves. This is the thought behind “Portraits of women”, an event that the National Center of Hadrontherapy (Cnao) conceived and carried out with the Policlinico San Matteo and the ICS Maugeri of Pavia, to dedicate it to women who are facing a tumor.

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Like living sculptures

The works that will be projected are the “dressed sculptures” of Stefano Bressani, defined as the tailor of art, who created a new contemporary art technique based on recycling and sustainability. His creations are in fact sculptures of plastic material covered with fabrics from used clothes, which in his vision become eternal. The collection chosen for this event is #picassoreloaded, already exhibited in an international exhibition, in which the artist reinterpreted Picasso’s works through a recomposition of his images.

Portrait of a Woman, #picassoreloaded Collection. Courtesy of Stefano Bressani

“The works of the #picassoreloaded collection can express the theme of scars and their processing – explains a Breast Health Bressani – But when the Cnao contacted me to collaborate on this project, while we were discussing it, I had the intuition of being able to transform the women themselves into living sculptures, and to use hospital sheets to dress them. The idea is to take something that for them was associated with pain and ugliness, and transform it into a symbol of beauty and lightness: the demonstration of how, through art, a message can be completely distorted. We will then project the works depicting women by #picassoreloaded onto the models themselves, to transform them again.”

Ladies and gentlemen, here is the Rebirth fashion show

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The high fashion alphabet to talk about self-esteem

Today’s event, therefore, will not be “just” a parade of patient-models, but a kaleidoscopic show based on a matryoshka of concepts: the last one, in the centre, is rebirth after the diagnosis of cancer. “I based myself on the symbols of rebirth and self-love to design the 15 models they will wear – she says Nada New, the designer who had already patented the “Transformable Dress” in 1998 and who was involved in the project by Bressani – I was in fact inspired by Botticelli’s Spring and the lotus flower. We cut out over 1,500 petals from the sheets, and designed the crafts and decorations using high fashion techniques. It is difficult now to recognize the origin of the fabric.”

Sketches of the clothes made for

The stylist created the clothes to the measurements of the patient-models but will meet them in person, for the first time, today, when she will choose the right dress for each one: “The message, for me, is that it is possible to work on one’s self-esteem in every circumstance, even when you are not wearing a silk chiffon dress, but created with the cotton of a sheet”.

Barbara and art as therapy against cancer: “I drew what I saw in the hospital”

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The meaning of a parade

There are more and more initiatives that want to convey the importance of caring for the person beyond the illness, and thus remove the idea that those affected by cancer must identify with the condition of being ill. Among the models there will be Scarlettwho was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago and today helps other patients; Enzawho faces metastatic lung cancer always with lipstick on her lips, Geneva who faced a rare bone tumor at just 19 years old and is now working on his illustrated children’s book. AND Paolawho has been living with metastatic breast cancer for many years (among the bloggers of Fight, live, smile): “For me, showing today is very significant. Last year, just these days, I was at the Cnao for treatment. I decided to put my face to it, despite sometimes there is the risk of making the disease a spectacle, to give a message of hope to patients who are about to or are undergoing treatments, and for the gratitude I feel for the place that saved me the life. A global excellence for the technology used, but also made by fantastic people from a human point of view, who not only cure the disease, but take all-round care of the patients.”

Green therapy, when the landscape “heals”

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In addition to the parade, the event includes much more: from laughter therapy to music. “This initiative was born from the desire to take care of our patients even beyond the strictly clinical sphere – he says Esther Orlandi, Researcher of the Department of Clinical-surgical, Diagnostic and Pediatric Sciences at the University of Pavia and Director of the Clinical Department of the Cnao Foundation – The fashion show intends to dress, as well as the body, above all the wounds left by cancer in the body and soul of these women. It is a further step in the path that Cnao, with the ‘Let’s use the heart’ project, has been pursuing for some time to improve the quality of life of its patients. And it is further confirmation of the ability to network that three excellent entities such as Cnao, Policlinico San Matteo and ICS Maugeri have. We collaborate from a multidisciplinary perspective, to provide the best therapeutic approach – he concludes – and we also join forces alongside women who face life after cancer, helping them to rediscover their femininity beyond the disease”.

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