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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 01 September 2018
FASHION 20 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2018 intersection of medicine and fashion The unlikely DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Dr Stefanie Kalfas’ not-for-profit enterprise, Intersections has been shortlisted for the Victorian government’s Pick My Project community grant funding program ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS M edicine and fashion are disciplines one rarely associates with one another. But Dr Stefanie Kalfas is proving otherwise. She has come up with an enterprise that is capturing imaginations even at government level. A trained doctor, her passion Each garment is handmade by Dr Kalfas and her yiayia. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED/ JOHN DOUGLAS PALLOT project Intersections has been shortlisted for the Victorian Government's community grant funding program Pick My Project, now open to a public vote. If successful, it will see her project receive $200,000 to bring her first showcase to life. "Much like everything to do with this whole fashion thing, it was yiayia that got me into it," she says with a laugh. "You had to demonstrate how you would impact the local community, that you had a sustainable plan and what your budget was. So we did the proposal online and then they contacted us for more details and were shortlisted." For Dr Kalfas Intersections is more of a philosophy than an organisation, aimed at empowering people to understand their inherent worth, while also fostering connection between human beings through experiential productions and immersive events. Using Intersections as a platform, the idea is to create an inaugural women's collection of 50 pieces - all handmade, stitch-bystitch by Dr Kalfas and her yiayia - and to showcase it in an elaborate haute couture runway at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. The venue is a fitting choice, given that 100 per cent of the proceeds from ticket sales will be given towards cancer research, but it is also apt structurally. "I thought Peter Mac was the most perfect venue because of the architecture, [and also because] my pieces are very architectural and they sort of reflect the design language of architecture as well," she explains. With the vision to create an event that promises to be "more epic than a Chanel runway show", while she will be self-funding and working pro-bono to create the collection - an epic task while juggling a career in medicine simultaneously - if she is successful, the additional funds will help her realise the production side of the event, which will feature an orchestra, choir, vocalists, live ensemble, lighting and holotechnology, and to garner attention nation-wide so as to assist her cause of choice. "The hope is that people will also contribute more money on the night as a tax deduction for them or their company, and then a bit like The Good Friday Appeal, the whole Australian public knows about this and are engaged in this, and it will be live streamed. So hopefully also having community donations come through too," she explains. The idea follows on from the not-for-profit label HhaM, which Dr Kalfas started in 2016, making and selling high end accessories with all proceeds going to a good cause. But this is taking it to the next level. "I've always wanted to use fashion in a way that does contribute to positive change, and what I found with HhaM was that while it could raise money for a particular cause, it was limited in what else it could do. But Intersections I think can have an impact that's much greater than that, and also a personal impact in terms of making us feel more connected and empowering us as individuals," she explains. While she recognises that fashion can often be superficial and commercialised - the polar opposite to medicine - by taking that aspect away, with the garments not up for sale, she is aspiring to make her fashion instead about art, expression, and connection. While proceeds from the first collection launch will go towards cancer research, the idea is that each collection thereafter will give back to a different philanthropic cause of her choosing. Meanwhile, apart from putting on productions, Intersections is also creating a recorded visual and audio program for the public's viewing. Titled Conversations, it features a two hour conversation between four people, with no brief, just the aim to capture genuine human interaction, where people from different disciplines such as medicine and art, can find common ground. "The point is that we have a time to feel listened, and heard, and seen, and also feel connected with one another because we can see the common ground that exists between us," she says. "Even just someone within your field as well, I think sometimes we can create an idea of who a person is and how they relate to us or don't relate to us, but this is about taking that person outside of that box." This is something Dr Kalfas understands first hand, given she certainly doesn't adhere to stereotypes. Currently working in the emergency department of Royal Melbourne Hospital, in her spare time, she makes time to sew with her beloved yiayia. While it's not a common schedule amongst those in her field, she says she has had an overwhelming response from her colleagues. "It's always extremely positive actually," she says. "Even from the patients who don't necessarily know what I'm doing but might see me in a dress, and they're like 'I love what you're wearing'. It's actually very well received even if it is a bit out of place for medicine, or unusual." Exposed to hurt and pain in her day-to-day, Intersections is the young doctor and designer's way of injecting some hope into the world through experiences that give people the chance to engage with their community, and to give back to a good cause. "I suppose it would boil down to making people feel that there is love in this world and hope and beauty; that's what it really comes down to," she says. "We want to be something that purely exists for the good of humanity, and I think even that suggestion can be powerful." To find out more about the funding program and to vote for Intersections, visit pickmyproject.vic.gov.au. For more on Intersections, visit https://intersections2018. com.au/ and follow @ i4cancer on Instagram. Dr Kalfas with her yiayia.
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