Zoe: The Ultimate Dress

By Zoe, Nairobi (p  ictured above: Zoe's sister, Zia)

By Zoe, Nairobi (pictured above: Zoe's sister, Zia)

I had to turn a pile of trash into an art piece. This was going to be a major challenge. At first I thought I should stick with what I know—something workable and simple; something that would not flop! The more I reflected, the more I thought, “I must be unique… I must tell a story… I must design the world!”

Design the world, indeed! But what was a representation of the world? What was one thing that, wherever it went, would tell a story? As I started to set limits for myself I remembered my art teacher’s words on the first day of class: “do not take art because you like it, do art because you are passionate about it.” There was my first rule—my piece had to involve plenty of passion.

Then came stage two. My school is a small world within itself: there are the visionaries, the dreamers, the scientists, the artists, the dancers, the singers, the many cultures and nationalities represented. We are a world with our own anthem, our government, our laws and constitution. However, we speak one language—the language the world of girls understands! Stage two meant I had to design for my world… I froze. What was it going to be? Yet again, the words that have constantly been repeated to me by my family rang clear: child, believe, and what your mind conjures your hands can be coerced into making. Voila, the Ultimate Gown was realized.

How would this be possible? I was a quiet girl, an introvert who played it safe. The more I interacted with the other girls from Nairobi and Mia, I realized we all have fears… but we must rise to different challenges to conquer them. I looked at the mentors all around me, and there it was. I walked out of my shell never to look back—I went forth with a little fear, but much more courage! Definitely, my art piece had to reflect this growth.

From Styrofoam, plastic bags, newspapers, an old tee shirt, manila wire, ice cream cups, and plenty of plastic wrap, a masterpiece emerged. I knew it had to be a dress because every time I turn on the TV or read something women in power, the world listens to what they say… but the world also discusses their dress. From Jackie Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth, Michelle Obama, to Kate Middleton and Lupita, to Mrs. Mbugua, my school principal, the world is obsessed with the dress. So I designed and created the Ultimate Dress.

To accessorize the dress, I went on a scavenger hunt for bottle tops. In conjunction with some wire from broken headphones, I created the bracelet. Finally my creation was ready, and my gracious sister ZIA volunteered to model the entire outfit, at no charge!