Under eaves of stretched canvas, eight Festival of Arts exhibitors displayed elaborate couture of recycled materials, a runway event that pulled celebrity hosts, prominent judges, and local models together for the sake of reclaimed fashion.
At the third annual event, hordes of elegantly-clad patrons “oohed” and “aahed” at haute couture made of at least 80% recycled material ranging from caution tape to beach sand.
“This was a very big sewing lesson for me. I learned how to actually follow a pattern, sew it together and use a zipper,” said Neely, whose usual art form is jewelry. “Alicia and I went through 70 to 80 fashion magazines to get the right color.” The creation, titled “Novella” took a week to complete and received second place in the competition.
Dagmar Chaplin, in her third year as a fashion show designer, was inspired by the Festival’s theme of make believe when she crafted the idea to use a Laguna Beach legend as her muse. According to local folklore, a sea nymph rescued a ship’s captain from a shipwreck and they fell in love, however he remained on land and she returned to her aquatic life, doomed to wander the bays of Laguna broken-hearted. In an ensemble made mostly of old t-shirts and hospital garments, laundry bags, bamboo, seashells and sand, model Sophie Higuchi expressed her embodiment of the character when she said, “I feel like a mermaid.”
Rocking the runway with their Elizabethan-punk design, Janet Lewis and Elizabeth McGhee creation infused English renaissance with modern gothic garb, spawning a dress reminiscent of a sinister Lewis Carroll character directly from Wonderland. Taking third place, the re-recycled dress was composed of materials from their previous year’s entry including oddities such as corks, bottle caps, window screens, coffee filters, and a weather-beaten flag pole.
“I would wear this dress to a very fancy cocktail party in 1987. I would rock it!” model Jessica Arsenian said about designer Brittany Ryan’s glimmering and geometric party dress. Her inspiration: the logo from the festival itself, black and gold, molded into high fashion couture with a high collar, a geometric midsection and the textured gilded shopping bag as a fabric substitute.
Elsberry said his design that took a week and a half to complete, including a 12-hour night of labor he endured before the show. Elsberry’s design won first place and the People’s Choice Award.
Hayley Toler is a Cal State Fullerton history and anthropology major.