May 12, 2020

Concetta Cipriano Gacka ’07 is participating as a designer for RefuSHE’s Fashion Challenge on June 18–20. Proceeds from this interactive virtual runway show will benefit refugee women and girls from countries throughout East Africa served by RefuSHE, a nonprofit in Nairobi, Kenya. In a competition inspired by Project Runway, emerging designers create outfits incorporating fabric hand-dyed by women in RefuSHE's Artisan Collective, a program that fosters leadership and business skills.

Concetta, a bridal designer and wardrobe stylist, participated in RefuSHE’s first Fashion Challenge in 2011. It was the same year that she decided to quit her job to pursue a career in fashion design full time. 

“I have had people who have supported me in my life. I know how important it is to empower these young girls so they realize that they can take their lives into their own hands and are able to pursue their own careers and dreams as well,” Concetta explained.

Beginning as a self-taught dressmaker, Concetta continued her formal education with a degree in fashion design and studio art from Dominican University along with programs in Florence, Italy. In 2011, Concetta was selected as one of six designers to participate in the Chicago Fashion Incubator; a year-long prestigious program sponsored by Macy's and the City of Chicago for up and coming designers.

Soon after, she opened up her first studio on the northwest side of Chicago. Since the launch of her brand, Cettina has become a favorite among Chicago women looking for that special dress to wear to a wedding, cocktail event, or a night out with friends.

Read more: Meet the Fashion Challenge Designers