Felicite Luwungu is sorting through material for her latest collection at a studio in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Her outfits are entirely made out of condoms. The Congolese fashion designer says she wants to help promote safe sex with her designs as part of efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in the central African country.
Felicite started making her condom line in 2015, which includes strapless evening gowns and tops.
What motivated me to use condoms to design dresses was people living with HIV virus and I wanted to send a message through my creations.
“What motivated me to use condoms to design dresses was people living with HIV virus and I wanted to send a message through my creations, and raise awareness for people to protect themselves,” Luwungu said.
According to the United Nations the number of people living with HIV/AIDS and dying from related infections in the DR Congo has been falling for more than a decade.
The prevalence rate of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is about 0.7 percent, among the lowest in southern and central Africa, UNAIDS data shows.
Felicite’s designs have shocked audiences, but responses have been mostly positive.
“The person whose reaction I feared the most is my father when I am I showed him one of my dresses for the first time, he was surprised but later on encouraged me, which gave me strength to continue. Other family members were also surprised at first but now they all want to the dresses on and take pictures,” she added.
Some of the models who show off her designs also say they have learnt a lot while working with her.
“I am wearing this dress to show people that they need to protect themselves against the virus, and be careful when you have sexual intercourse, you may be endangering your partner,” added Zahani Nsukami, a model.
The 40-year-old designer, displays her work in runway shows and exhibitions. When she finishes the condom collection, she plans to present it at a fashion show in the capital,Kinshasa next year.