Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011-03-31 "Fashion from trash" by Emily Charrier-Botts from "INDEX-TRIBUNE" newspaper of Sonoma County
Where else can you find a cocktail dress festooned with vintage turkey insemination tubes? Or a shroud reconstituted from a wedding dress? Only at the Trashion fashion show at 5 p.m. this Saturday at the Sonoma Community Center.
Organizers of the event invited anyone interested to construct clothing and accessories from found, recycled or used material - and dozens of entries poured in with materials ranging from trash bags to Iraq war uniforms to maps to wisdom teeth. That's right, wisdom teeth.
"People were very creative," said Margaret Hatcher, special projects manager at the center. A costume designer herself, Hatcher has long wanted to host a fashion show, and saw a unique opening with the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art's "Eco Chic" exhibit of sustainable Swedish fashion designs, on display through May 15.
"We saw an obvious opportunity. We like to partner with any organization and the museum was a clear fit," Hatcher said, adding that the event will also spread awareness about the importance of conservation. "The theme of trash was a natural. It's a concept that's broader than just artists, just designers, just costume designers. Everyone makes trash, it's something everyone can relate to."
The event begins with a cocktail hour, where appetizers and "white trash" cocktails will be served. Jean Arnold Sessions will act as the mistress of ceremonies, and will be introducing the designs and explaining the materials used. Following the show, the party moves upstairs to Gallery 212 where the designs will be displayed alongside the "Accessories Exhibit," featuring jewelry, handbags and shoes crafted from found objects.
Winning designs will be selected by a panel of judges including Pamela Johnson, costume designer and performing arts technician at Sonoma State University; Shelly Willis of Art In Public Places in Sacramento; Kate Eilertsen, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art; and Kathy Swett, executive director of Sonoma Community Center.
The winning designer will be awarded $500, with $250 going to the winner in the teen category. A $500 prize will also be awarded to the "Best of Exhibit" from the accessories display.
Valley designers had fun finding unique material to fashion clothing - especially Alexa Wood, who tailored chicken feed bags into a dress decorated with beads she constructed from antique turkey insemination tubes. Going for a full poultry theme, she added a wide-brimmed white hat with a yellow center to look like a fried egg.
"It's a 'cock-tail' dress, as in rooster. It has a tail too," she said, adding that she made a matching clutch and shoes. "I think I'm going to make her a little poofy dog too. After a little wine sitting around with friends, the ideas get bigger."
The students at Crescent Montessori School also got into the fashion, designing a dress from maps of California. School Director Karin Niehoff said the students participated on their own time, with assistance from several seamstresses who are related to one of the students.
"We go over to their studio after school. The students help by folding maps and pinning things into place," Niehoff said. "We're only using California maps because it's our state and it ties into our studies on California history."
Tickets to the event are $25 and available in extremely limited supply, and could be standing room only. All proceeds will benefit art programs at the center. Contact the center at 938-4626, ext. 1, to inquire about the status of tickets.
The exhibit of accessories will stay on display at the center in Gallery 212 through April 23.
The Sonoma Community Center is located at 276 E. Napa St.
In conjunction with the Trashion show, the center will host classes and workshops related to recycled art. These include "From Trash to Treasure: Art as Object," beginning April 14; "Multidimensional Mono-printing with Brigitte McReynolds" May 7 and 8; and "Papermaking with Plant Inclusions" with visiting artist Rhiannon Alpers on July 23. For complete class details, visit

ALEXA WOOD works on the finishing touches of her poultry-themed "cock-tail" dress, made from chicken feed bags and adorned with beads fashioned from antique turkey insemination tubes.
Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune

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