Creativity Flourishes on the Runway

By Loreen Berlin, Special to the Independent


Alicia Chavex models Adam Neeley’s “natural foliage” dress that won the “Most Creative Concept” award.

A hushed crowd of appreciative attendees nearly forgot to applaud as models strutted the runway at the annual fashion show, among the final special events of the summer-long Festival of Art, which closed Saturday.

All entries were fashioned of 80 percent used, recycled or re-used materials.

Model Alicia Chavex wore jewelry artist Adam Neely’s creation, inspired by Botticelli’s painting “La Primavera,” an homage to Mother Nature.

The dress’s foundation relied on recycled mesh window screens, painted bronze. The bodice, covered in tissue paper, was recycled from mail-order packaging and the skirt of the dress made from an array of natural foliage.

Neeley won the award for the “most innovative use of materials.”

Model Hailey Sivadge wore show-stopping “Art Studio Trash,” a short evening dress styled by artist Brittany Ryan from trash in her studio. Rags, paper palettes, ruined brushes, leftover paint tubes, unfinished paintings, scraps of linen and canvas, armature wire, wax and packing materials were transformed into a garment.

Next on the runway was a whimsical piece, “Wood Dressing” by woodworker Richard Evans. He created an assemblage of wood veneers and hardware salvaged from discarded doors.

Evans won the newest award, “The Cojo Award,” presented by judge Cojo.

"Most innovate use of materials" went to Jon Seeman for use of  materials such as gears, hinges, keys and chains modeled by niece Shannon Seeman.

“Most innovate use of materials” went to Jon Seeman for use of materials such as gears, hinges, keys and chains modeled by niece Shannon Seeman.

Sculptor Jon Seeman’s recycled dress was patterned with rusted-gear imprints. Model Shannon Seeman’s vest was made of repurposed copper sheeting studded with brass parts and welded beading. Her runway dog was a “gearbox,” topped with a camera for its nose; golf-club ears and a tin-can torso, which made him a “heavy-metal pooch.”

Seeman’s creation won the “most innovative use of materials.”


Woodworker Richard Evans wears his “Wood Dressing” of wood veneers and salvaged hardware.

Taking the “most glamorous” and People’s Choice awards was painter Brad Elsberry for his “Watershed” turquoise evening dress and lace jacket.

Model Erika Baldwin first appeared cloaked in a snowy-white lacy-looking long coat, which was surprisingly made of water-based house-paint.

Shedding the wrap, she emerged in a floor-length gown of turquoise representing rushing and falling water.

Outlaw inspired ensemble.

The “Outlaw” outfit was made by Michelle Lance and modeled by Kurt Blanton.

Following that inspiration, out stepped the “Outlaw” designed by Michelle Lance and modeled by Kurt Blanton.

Blanton sported a duster made from photography backdrop paper stapled together; underneath, he wore chaps made from a recycled plastic tarp stitched together. The chaps were embellished with crushed glass glued onto the plastic.

Marie Antoinette inspired ensemble.

The Marie Antoinette gown fashioned and modeled by Elizabeth McGhee took home the “Most Exciting Ensemble” award.

Taking the “Most Exciting Ensemble” award was oil painter Elizabeth McGhee, with her depiction of “Marie Antoinette” and an 18th century ballroom gown, modeled by herself.

An array of generally discarded pieces were put to good use in the gown, consisting of packing paper, bubble wrap, bags of fluffy foam and packing tape.

The majority of the dress was fashioned from packing materials, embellished with paper beads, loofas, plastic bags and foam sheets. A hula hoop suspended from strips of plastic ribbon gave the skirt of sculptural paper a floating affect.

All of the dress components were stapled, hot-glued and sewn.

Cojo summed it up best when he said, “It’s amazing the depths the arts will go to make this huge statement; it was creative and fun and we recycled.”


Erika Baldwin models Brad Elsberry’s “People’s Choice” and “Most Glamorous” award winner, made of house paint.

Fashion show sponsor Arbonne awarded each participant a $100 gift certificate. Arbonne’s chief executive Kay Napier served as a judge.


Loreen Berlin may be reached at [email protected]


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