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The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

‘Affirm with a Tee’ Fashion Show Finale: A Night of Glamour and Pizzazz

Photo courtesy of Adrian Vazquez
CEO Club, Marketing Club and Fashion collaborate to celebrate creativity and positivity.

Last Wednesday, the CEO Club, Fashion Club and Market Club collaborated to host “Affirm with a Tee.” Held at the Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the event was a culmination of a weeks long competition between student designers to create a design displaying a positive affirmation that the students created.  

“Affirm with a Tee” was meant to serve as a way of promoting the Hynes Institute for all majors and inspire confidence in students who participate in the show. Models were trained in workshops to learn how to move and pose while walking on the runway. Designers were similarly trained on how to use the Cricut machine, which is an electronic cutting machine that is used to print and iron their designs onto the shirts.  

Originally, the CEO Club was going to do something like the Iona Innovation Challenge. “It’s a way to showcase another side of entrepreneurship,” said CEO President Luis Porco. “Everyone thinks, ‘oh entrepreneurship is about starting a business.’” 

He adds, “This event provides an opportunity for students to do something more on the creative or artistic side and shows them they are supported at the Hynes Institute in terms of their endeavors regardless of their interests.” 

Eight student designers competed to be selected by a panel of three fashion savvy judges as the top three designers. Eleven trained student models strut down the runaway and showed off the designs to music that was selected by the students’ designers.  

The models made their debut on the runaway with ease. When asked why she wanted to model for the show Jidhapa Vastola ’27 answered with what it meant to her. 

 “I like being the center of attention,” Vastola said. “I like being seen and I like being in front of the camera.” 

There was of course plenty of work happening behind the scenes as well to make this show happen. Fashion Club Treasurer Mustafa Naeem noted the extensive preparation that allowed the show to happen.  

“Designers and models attended workshops as recently as Oct. 23, where designers came to practice and refine their talent.” Naeem says. 

After much deliberation, the judges announced their final decisions. Third place went to Alexander Garces, who received $50. Second place went to Catherine Cassidy, winning $75. First place went to Debra Diaz ’26, who won the grand prize of $125 for her elegant pink swan design.  

Diaz’s design was meant to boost the confidence of students and teach them they are more capable than they think they are.  

When asked why she entered the competition and chose the affirmation “Give Yourself Grace,” Diaz explained, “I think people overlook mental health when it comes to being an overachiever in life and especially in school, so it’s very important to give yourself grace.” 

In addition to the top three designers, Brandon Chung ’26, won the Trendsetter Choice Award, which was a creative material gift basket. Chung’s design stood out not just for its content but its distinct form to express its message of love.  

“I was inspired by Helmut Lang, shopping a few years ago” Chung said, “I came across a dress with cuts and inner layers and thought I could incorporate it into my design.”  

One of the models for Chung and Hynes Institute intern, Lyndsy Pontillo, adds, “I think fashion is a unique form of art. Fashion is something everyone can relate to.” 

The fashion show concluded with CEO Club’s Social Media Manger Eilen Cordero and Vice President Peter Kirchgaesser thanking the designers, models, the Fashion Club, Marketing Club and Hynes Institute for making the event possible.  

“Affirm with a Tee” was a remarkable testament to the creativity of Gaels and the universality of entrepreneurship, as well as how positivity can serve as powerful imagery to inspire others.  



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Adrian Vazquez
Adrian Vazquez, Assistant News Editor

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