With one call to the Las Vegas Fashion Council, an entire wish came together seamlessly. 10-year-old Milene, diagnosed with both lupus and a seizure disorder that causes her to have up to 40 seizures a day, hardly lets her diagnosis define her.
From a young age, Milene developed a love for fashion. She enjoyed dressing in pink and purple, playing with her cat and best friend, Chubbs, and hand-sewing clothes for her dolls. Milene’s grandmother taught her to sew, and together they would spend time crafting unique creations. When asked by her wish granters about her one true wish, the answer was easy: Milene wished to be a fashion designer. She envisioned herself sketching outfits, selecting fabric and sewing clothes together on a real sewing machine.
A Community Effort
It took one mention to the Southern Nevada Board of Directors to put this wish into motion. Long time board member, Melissa Warren, immediately contacted the Las Vegas Fashion Council to share this exciting wish. The best part? The fashion council was having a fashion show the next week--perfect timing for Milene to get an insider’s view into the world of fashion design. At the show, Milene, and her mother were given backstage exclusivity to meet with the designers and ask important questions about fashion design. During the show, Milene was even given a special shout-out from the emcee, announcing to the crowd that an up and coming designer was in their midst! Milene left the show on cloud nine, readier than ever to follow her dream of design.
A few weeks passed as details solidified surrounding Milene’s wish, and in June, Milene and her family were invited to a special party at a local jewelry store. T-Bird Jewels works closely with the American Gem Society, and they heard the news about a young girl who wished to be a fashion designer. While they didn’t design clothes, they did design jewelry, and they generously offered Milene the chance to visit their jewelry store and create a custom piece. As Milene and her family entered the store, local designers and Make-A-Wish® staff stood at the entrance holding signs proclaiming “Milene, your wish is coming true!” Overcome with excitement, the biggest smile spread across Milene’s face. “This is the best day ever!” she would later tell us.
Milene met jewelry designer, Jenny O., and promptly went to work creating a custom necklace. Milene selected a silver chain with a paw print charm encrusted in pink and purple gems. Engraved on the back are the words “best friend” as an ode to her beloved cat, Chubbs.
Following her time creating jewelry, Milene then went on to meet with local t-shirt designers, Eagle Promotions. Milene spent time creating a look book, sketching her thoughts, and learning all about the inner workings of t-shirt design. Milene worked closely with the team of designers to create several custom t-shirts, all featuring Chubbs in some way. After selecting the fabric and rhinestone design, Milene was invited down to the warehouse to watch as her shirts were printed before her very eyes! Milene stood by the conveyor belt as her first shirt was delivered, hot off the press, into her hands. The entire warehouse stopped production and clapped and cheered for her as they celebrated this momentous occasion.
In addition to her jewelry and t-shirt designs, local design group Stitch Factory also wanted to be involved and offered Milene educational design classes all summer long. Milene teamed up with a local designer, Kevin Smith, and together they created two special outfits to be modeled at Milene’s culminating fashion show. Kevin and Milene sketched, sewed on the machines, created patterns and shopped for fabric. Milene could hardly believe it--she was really becoming a fashion designer!
On August 29th at the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas, Milene’s Pink and Purple Runway Show was underway. Models donned pink and purple clothing donated for the day from Macy’s and walked the runway to Milene’s favorite songs. Halfway through the show, a model came out wearing one of Milene’s handcrafted creations--the crowd clapped fervently, stunned that a local ten-year-old had made such a piece. Then, much to their surprise, another model came out in yet another of Milene’s creations--it was almost too good to be true! The crowd stood to their feet and clapped as Milene’s design graced the walkway. The models then returned backstage and changed into their “Mr. Chubbs” shirts that Milene designed in honor of her cat. The models lined the runway in Milene’s custom t-shirts as Milene herself made a walk down the runway. Kevin from Stitch Factory also joined Milene on the catwalk and as pink and purple confetti fell from the sky, he made an announcement to the crowd—Milene had been invited to stay on as a designer at the Stitch Factory and continue receiving lessons! As if this wasn’t enough to put a smile on Milene’s face, Kevin then presented her with her very own sewing machine. A huge smile appeared on Milene’s face in disbelief, quickly followed by tears as the emotion of the moment overwhelmed her. There wasn’t a dry eye on the runway at this point! As Kevin and his young designer embraced, the crowd clapped and cheered as Kevin and Milene walked hand in hand back down the runway.