By Michelle Hirsch
Chandler residents with a flair for creativity and fashion recently looked for something “trashy” to create fashions ready for the runway in the city’s inaugural “Trashion Fashion Show”.
Organized by Chandler Center for the Arts, along with the city’s Solid Waste Services and Parks and Recreation divisions, this unique fashion show was created as a fun way to get people thinking differently about waste, according to Traci Conaway, Chandler’s recycling specialist.
“We encouraged entrants to let their imaginations go, be wildly inventive and have fun with their designs,” said Conaway.
Designers competed in the age categories 10-13, 14-17, Adult (18-plus), and were instructed to make a fashionable garment from a minimum of 75 percent reused or recycled materials.
Event rules mandated that designers could not purchase anything new but could acquire base fabric from a garage sale, thrift shop, a friend or family member. Designers could sew, stitch, tape, hot glue, rivet, or staple to hold pieces together, and all garments were required to be clean, safe to wear and touch, have no sharp edges, no glass and no liquids or food waste.
All designers were required to include an environmental fact with their fashion entry of a material used in the design, along with the material’s effect on the environment.
Entries were judged by Shari Keith, a local artist who makes things out of found and saved items; Dorie Morales, CEO and publisher of Green Living AZ Magazine; and Kim Kaan, the city’s website editor.
Anneke Wensink and Megan Williams designed the gown that took first place in the 10-13 age category. The gown was modeled by Anneke, 13, and was made from plastic produce bags, tissue paper, paper plates, plastic netting, ribbon, Christmas bows and a clear plastic to-go box.
West Chandler area 8th grader Mauren Tagg, a student at HorizonCommunityLearningCenter, says she has enjoyed participating in a number of city-sponsored programs; the Trashion Fashion show is now added to her list of favorites.
Mauren also competed in the 10-13 age category, designing her dress using reconstituted sun-shade material for the base of the skirt and covered with 75 water bottles cut into spirals. Added to the design were paint swatches sewn on an old t-shirt for the top of the dress. It took about two months and 40 hours of time to create her garment, she said.
Mauren’s design was inspired by a previous art class project where she and other students used colored water bottles to make a large chandelier project inspired by the art glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly.
“I thought the project was really fun, and the end product looked really cool so I wanted to find a way to use the same idea in my design,” Mauren explained.
“My environmental fact was that water bottles are 100 percent recyclable. However, if left in a landfill, they take 700 years to decompose,” she added.
The winner in the 14-17 category was 16-year-old Anna LaBatt, who modeled a gown made with plastic shopping bags ironed together and adorned with sequins and flowers made from coffee bags and pieces from a belt.
Sophia Phillips learned about the show’s “trashion” underpinnings on the city’s Facebook page and designed the winning garment in the Adult category using more than 1,000 coffee filters, coffee burlap bags and magazines from Mothers Awareness on School-Aged Kids, or MASK. Phillips’ 6-year-old daughter Jaelyn, a Kyrene de la Paloma student, said she was happy to join her mom on the runway in a similar dress.
Phillips was inspired to use MASK magazines as a creative way to promote awareness of the publication that she says educates parents and teens on many important topics. Phillips used coffee filters to create a flowing, gown effect.
“I’m very creative. God gave me a really creative mind. I paint, design, I get a vision and I create it. It’s something I enjoy,” said Phillips. Her accompanying environmental fact suggested used coffee filters and grounds can be put in soil to help nourish gardens instead of thrown away in the trash.
Contestants received gift cards donated by Verde Salon and Shears and Shades hair design, as well as movie passes and VISA gift cards donated by United Fibers, the city’s recycling contractor.
Fashions from the event will be on display in the lobby of ChandlerCity Hall in November in recognition of America Recycles Day (Nov. 15) and in the Vision Gallery Nov. 3 through Dec. 5.