The ReCouture: Recycled Runway Fashion Show debuted last Friday to a large crowd at the Harrison Center gymnasium. Couture clad models stomped the runway to the thumping tunes of DJ Kyle Long while an appreciative crowd cheered for fashions created from ... Astroturf? Visqueen? Old trash bags?
For Ellen Nylen, the show’s creator, ReCouture was inspired by the idea that beautiful art and fashion can come from throw-away materials. With its 15 designers and artists, ReCouture was a natural fit for the Harrison Center’s current R-value: Revive Restore Reuse show. Designers and artists included James Beaver, Beth Bennett, Emilee Cota, Beth Eisinger, Cathy Fritsch, Jody Hardy, Natasha Heines, Derek Hill, Vanessa Monfreda, Nylen, Anel Pinon, Anthony Radford, Jessica Umbreit, Annette Vazquez and Sara Zeta Zuckerman. With designs ranging from Japanese-influenced kimonos to Alexander McQueen-like creations, the runway show was an amazing success.
With 100 yards of plastic drop cloth found unused and lying around his office, Beaver fashioned a robe de Français. Pagoda-like sleeves, a fitted bodice and wide skirt expanded by a pannier hoop produced a silhouette typical to those found in 18th century French fashion. His model also wore a high coiffure made of 180 feet of white, curled ribbon.
In her garage, Emilee Cota found a small wooden fence scrap, which she transformed into an Astroturf garden dress complete with flowers. The short, bright green chemise was inspired by her Astroturf bra that was also on display in the gallery.
Also featured were floor designs and creations from artists Jodie Hardy, Anel Pinon, Emilee Cota and Vanessa Monfreda. With a nod to Hillary Clinton’s famed pant suits, Hardy made the ultimate woman’s power suit from plastic neon yellow “caution” tape set off with broad lapels and a red fingernail necklace.
Taking a note from Yohji Yamamoto’s 1996 Paris felt collections, Anel Pinon’s ecospun felt dresses were among the most exquisitely tailored designs. Aptly titled “Sky,” “Storm” and “Cloud,” these tasteful creations demonstrated that the materials that we see as our everyday trash are, without a doubt, a treasure to others. Clearly on Friday evening, 15 designers and artists saw works of art and haute couture in the trash of our lives, and demonstrated that there is still some use in the stuff we casually toss away.