Home > Fashion Events, Reviews > Oh my Trash! Is that Recyclable? The Trash Fashion Show.

Oh my Trash! Is that Recyclable? The Trash Fashion Show.

April 27, 2011

If you’re from Seattle or another large city you know that you can recycle almost anything and that plastic is one of the major key recyclables that are accepted. From plastic forks to grocery bags from sour cream lids to berry containers; from plastic cups to bubble wrap. But, then you also know there are many things that can’t be recycled. Certain items just can’t be processed because they have no value, they end up contaminating or they’re too brittle.

Hosted for the 10th year running by the ReStore, the Trash Fashion Show appears to take on those items that would otherwise make their way to landfills. Showing in Bellingham this past weekend and at the New York Fashion Academy (NYFA) in Seattle the weekend before, the theme this year was Plastic Pollution.

My friends call me eco-crusader (this is very important for a later rant) and some not-so-flattering titles when it comes to , it’s okay, I take it in stride. It’s true; so of course, I couldn’t help but be excited to see what would be done when designers created garments from items that couldn’t be recycled, or at least that’s what I thought it meant by trash fashion.

When the NYFA puts up a runway in its space it starts from a stairway in the center of the room and wraps around in either direction like bendable arms. They probably has one of the most awkward runways for a model or a host to work due to all of the structure beams, available lighting locations, twists and turns. The layout creates an intimate setting for the attendees though, with so much runway real estate attendees could sit in a front row, so what if it happened to be at the end or back of the runway.

So how would these designers give those items a second life? Would they create wearable art saved from the dump? Would it be something we’d actually want to wear? Would it make a statement? Oh the questions I had.

I arrived with the impression from a few designers that they were required to use 90% trash–items that could not be recycled. The website puts it a little differently it says that the designers were required to use “minimum of 90% reclaimed materials”. The word “reclaimed” really leaves a broad opening for interpretation, doesn’t it?

Mistress of Ceremonies: Rayona VIsqueen aka Robin Worley Photo by Kathy Ann Bugajsky

Mistress of Ceremonies: Rayona Visqueen aka Robin Worley

The fashion show coordinator and Mistress of Ceremonies, Rayona Visqueen was wearing a gorgeous gown made by Anna Dicklhuber, the winner of the Comcast Student Fashion Show, which if you were there was mis-stated as the Seattle Fashion Week Student Contest. Artist Cheri Kopp (You can check out her fun and insightful blog post about the show here!) and I spent some time back and forth admiring the dress trying to figure out what it was made from.

As I mentioned earlier I’m huge on recycling, so I was impressed to hear that Rayona Visqueen aka Robin Worley has been designing trash fashion for over 20 years. But her speech on the pollution created by plastic–that went on for was close to 15 minutes– was more appropriate for a classroom or a book signing. Sadly I started to relate to the sighs and “get on with it” mumbling around me. To make matters worse, I was beginning to regret inviting a first-timer to this event.

In a city such as ours where plastic bags and plastic bottles are recyclable and recycled and where consumers are charged for not bringing their own shopping bags-It would have been nice to hear a shout out from the Mistress of Ceremonies; Seattle has been and is working hard to . The tone of the speech could have been more congratulatory towards the audience instead of accusational and criticizing of the population (as a whole). I mean after all, the attendees did pay for and choose to spend their Saturday evening here supporting an event that helps keep trash out of, well, the trash.

It wasn’t a bad speech, just a long one but hearing about all that Rayona has done in the world of “Trashion” was very interesting. If you check out Rayona Visqueen’s blog you can find some meticulous creations that she’s created from debris saved from our streets and the dump (check out “bussle[sic] out back” & “war wear”).

Oh dear— All of that and not a drop of fashion-from-the-show shop talk?! There were almost 40 outfits which is about the size of some major label shows, the difference of course is that nearly all of these were done by different designers and each one had a story behind it that was told as the model walked. On more than one occasion the description was longer than the runway.

Let’s showcase a few of the designers.

So is it Trash or Recyclable? Plastic? Wearable? 

3) And finally most importantly- Is it fun, creative, spunky? Was there effort?

This last one was easy—there was at least a lot of creativity or spunk in the garments. 😉

La Snackaracha Designed by Lotta Rubbish, Modeled by Jennifer McPherson

La Snackaracha Designed by Lotta Rubbish, Modeled by Jennifer McPherson

Trash, Trash, Beautiful, Amazing Trash! Metal covered in plastic sewn together and turned into a fiesta! What can I say? What can’t I say? It looks like it came off a bolt, not out of a garbage can. I don’t want to be standing next to her at a party, she’d put anything to shame.

Dance Party Postal designed by Lorraine Kwan, modeled by Lauren Jensen

Dance Party Postal designed by Lorraine Kwan, modeled by Lauren Jensen

Oh so recyclable. It’s paper, or at least mostly paper, and according to the description given Lorraine collected the pretty packing material from mailed shopping items. It’s pretty, she looks like a Dutch girl. I like it and want one in my size, but it’s not trash-it’s recyclable and it’s not even plastic. She’s one of the veteran designers for Haute Trash & League of Trash Fashion but maybe she wasn’t told this was a plastique show?

Bubble Up Designed by Dress for Evolution, Modeled by Taru

Bubble Up Designed by Dress for Evolution, Modeled by Taru

Image above…well the dress was “oh so recyclable” and then it was injected with dye. That just creates so many quandaries I’ll leave for you. Visually I find the dress very reminiscent of the late 90s doll dresses and 70s in straight and dullness. The shoes looked dangerous to walk in and Taru took extra care with each step. Mosaiced and laced to her feet those clunkers weren’t going anywhere. She ended up being stuck in those shoes the rest of the night as you can see in the other Dress for Evolution design Taru is wearing below. But she did her best to rock them.. with extreme caution.


Now  in the dress below (worn by Taru as well) I’m pretty sure this is so not recyclable or plastic but one of the requirements is good enough. So it’s TRASH TRASH LOVELY TRASH!! This lovely piece of a..vant garde fashion, yes it is very trashion. The detailing at the hips was a bit unflattering at times, but the large curls and overall shape made it fun and memorable.

Silver Screen Designed by Dress for Evolution, Modeled by Taru

Silver Screen Designed by Dress for Evolution, Modeled by Taru

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Petals from Stone design by Jessica kelnhofer, modeled by Noelani Catrett

Petals from Stone design by Jessica Kelnhofer, modeled by Noelani Catrett

Recycle recycle! So not trash… unless you happened to come across these perfectly shaped pieces peeling off the side of a wall. Paint chips- the ones you use to chose that new color for your bathroom were used to make this GORGEOUS dress according to the announcement. One of my favorites, I would have changed into this number in the port-a-potties they called restrooms and worn this baby right out of the house. But alas, it fails the trash test.

Carmen Miranda Design Designed by Jen Girard, Modeled by Jen

Carmen Miranda Design Designed by Remixa Plastique, Modeled by Remixa

Cha cha cha Tequila! You my dear are the trash queen of my heart! Those damned papasan chairs end up broken and waist-ing away, but not any more. We’ve got plastic trash, wood trash and it even holds all kinds of fruit. I love love, love it~! I’d buy whatever she was selling, so what if it’s a little difficult trying to balance the base of a chair full of fruit on your head?

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Madame Butterfly Designed by Elle Poubelle, Modeled by Elle

Madame Butterfly Designed by Elle Poubelle, Modeled by Elle

Trash, trash spray painted trash! So apparently this fabric is the coverings found draped over your brand new furniture. It’s so beautifully draped, bold and pretty. Look what a little spray paint and fringe can do! Personally after learning her trade secrets I really wanted furniture companies to use recyclable materials only, but then Elle might run out of trash and we’d have nothing beautiful to look at.

Peace and Hope designed and modeled by Chako

Peace and Hope designed and modeled by Chako

Trash Trash and then some. Balloons and streamers, that horrible styrofoamy thin packaging padding and then there was the pop wrap from the big cases you’d find at Costco (pop=soda=coke for those of you not in the Pacific Northwest). The pop wrapper makes this multi-tiered corset that tied everything else in this dress together. Chako wore it like it was a $4000 gown.

Below you see another design by Chako– And this moves us into what I call the “plastic bag phase” I’m a huge lover of black, don’t get me wrong, but unless they were found in the garbage cans/dumpster I don’t think bags are trash since they can be recycled. Those shoes, on the other hand, I really, really want.

Dark Fashion designed by Chako modeled by Junko Thompson

Dark Fashion designed by Chako modeled by Junko Thompson

Mail Order Bride designed and modeled by Cindi Brooks

Mail Order Bride designed and modeled by Cindi Brooks

Trash or Recycle?!? It’s kind of a half and half-ish here, but it’s falling into the plastic bag phase because of the bubble wrap. I’ve got to say though, that’s the most ingenious use of packaging materials. I never thought brides looked good in short dresses until I saw this walk out, never. I always thought they looked lazy and informal. This dress is so beautiful and even though it’s made out of plastic I may have to think about putting Cindi on retainer just in case I ever need a wedding gown.

Pelagic in Blue and Green Designed by Nicola Griffin, Modeled by Nicola

Pelagic in Blue and Green Designed and modeled by Lotta Rubbish

This one’s a bit tough, but one things for sure it’s all plastic and there’s some crazy construction skills going on. Lovely to look at and it made you think back to Rayona Visqueen’s opening introduction about the ocean polution because of the colors. The sleeves and other portions we were told are created from produce bags (green stands for organic at least!), the front is done with those oh so attractive doggy poo bags. (Check out the outfit below for more poo bag designs.) And that’s my hang up, I personally couldn’t handle used bags (yuck!) but are new ones really reclaimed? The end verdict: You could roll this up and recycle it. As long as it was clean, rinsed and dried.

Doggie Doo Blue Designed Ruby Reusable Lana Landfill

Doggie Doo Blue Designed Ruby Reusable Lana Landfill

Oh Lana Landfill you stole the hearts of all the boys and half the girls in the audience. But I swear your breasts kept getting larger, must have been all of the poo you picked up from your invisible dog Fifi. I haven’t taken a very close look at the dog poo bags but if similar to most plastic bags the verdict is Recyclable, not trash.

That completes my Plastic Bag Phase, it was longer but you get the point.

Umbrella Wear designed by Cortney Rondell

Umbrella Wear designed by Cortney Rondell

Trash Trash Trash and oh so Western Washington. I’m actually going to error on the side that of caution and say that the umbrella skirts looked like nylon and probably weren’t fashioned out of plastic, but I loved the way they moved. They were fun completely and it was trash that became clothes. Actual clothing that I would look into finding a way to wearing-maybe not so blatantly as a umbrella though. Final ruling? Yay Trash! but not 90% plastic,  more like 40-50% plastic.

Marriage of Inconvenience designed by Alotta Detritus, modeled by Jaime Foster

Marriage of Inconvenience designed by Alotta Detritus, modeled by Jaime Foster

Trash trash trash and what a statement. What you see here are hundreds of little baggies for taking medication for AIDS and the paper cups to wash down the pills make the flowers. She looks ever the blushing bride, the design came out lovely. If I remember correctly from my conversations with Alotta there is some recyclable elements hidden under gown.

Gort Designed by Tinker's Dam, Modeled by Lorelei Paulus

Gort Designed by Tinker's Dam, Modeled by Lorelei Paulus

Not Plastic, Not Recyclable (the metal stars might be actually), so at least it’s Trash! The only reason I could figure for it being in the show was it star quality. It’s very beautiful, but completely out of place.

Sheer Magic designed by RockEon modeled by Selena

Sheer Magic designed by RockEon modeled by Selena

This trash truly was Sheer Magic. Though the “voiceover” as the RockEon designs hit the runway was a horrible mashup of scifi blending from the previously comical mountaineering references. At least the outfits were stellar enough to distract from the words. Sheer Magic would be welcomed at any con, ditch the boots and most clubs in the area would have her too. 😉

Don't Flip your Lid Designed by Ruby Reusable by modeled by Cleotrasha

Don't Flip your Lid Designed by Ruby Reusable by modeled by Cleotrasha

Rinse it and recycle it please. Lids donated from Red Robins. I love this dress, it’s plastic it’s asymmetrical, it moves and swings and almost shows inappropriate places. I know it doesn’t have to be trash, but I also know that in many restaurants it is trash. I hope they were collected post use, because this is one of my favorites of the night.


To see even more photos of the nights designs visit Kathy Ann Bugajsky’s Album.

What do you think?

Does it matter to you that guidelines and/or rules be followed? Or are they meant to be broken? In fashion pushing the edge is what drives new styles and trends. But it also creates a very high level of competitiveness, everyone isn’t allowed in because it’s the nice thing to do or because they worked hard.

There was a lot of hard work put into this show from everyone that made the shows possible and from the designers. Maybe the above strictness just can’t apply here, but I feel that if you are going to have a theme you should insure that the participants adhere to it.

If the designs that didn’t follow the theme (which were almost all done by veterans-aka repeat trash fashion designers) were desired to be in the show then I would have created a way for the nonconformists (the anti-plastics) to standout without looking completely out of place. I think bunching them all together and given them a playfully mocking title that still allowed the showcasing of their very well constructed garments without mixing them in with those that did follow the Plastic Pollution theme would have made for a better production.

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  1. April 27, 2011 at 10:52 am

    From a long time reader of this blog to be on it, such a good feeling 🙂

    Robin’s dress is made of recycled wrap and tissue paper (once they were a window display at NYFA) hand shredded and attached to a fitted dress with a circular ruffle skirt and then tucked in curvy pleats. Lining is made from recycled tablecloths from the Seattle Convention Center.

    In the second show she wore a different dress, made from shouder strap pads discarded at the ReStore.

    Thanks you for your always kind words and constructive comments and thanks Robin for wearing it at the show.

    • Bee
      April 27, 2011 at 11:31 am

      Anna,
      Thank you for reading 😀
      Okay I wasn’t close on my guessing, but I think Cheri might have been on the right track. I think we were saying streamers or shredded table cloths at first. Oh well mystery solved!
      How’d I miss the other dress in my browsing of other photographer’s collections?!
      One of the many things I didn’t mention in my 2000+ word post (why do I type so much?) was that they said you made her three dresses, I kept wondering when the costume change was coming 😉 I’m off to go find it!
      Robin also does amazing trash fashion–the work on her blog was just wow. And her daughters do it too!

  1. May 6, 2011 at 1:45 am
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