Saturday, July 23, 2011

Picked RAW Peeled: Fabric-Free Fashion

by Angela Babb Timmons

Fabric-Free Fashion at Visions Art Museum is featuring an exhibit of garments and fashion accessories made of non-traditional materials. The exhibit will be on display through July 24, 2011 running Tuesday - Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Contact Beth Smith at 619-546-4872 for questions. Also on display in the Art Meets Fashion room is the work of Team Evolution Transformed.

Gum wrappers and garbage sacks revitalized into a sexy little dress; plastic forks find new life in an ethereal winged getup that one could imagine flouncing down the red carpet on some flashy mega-star; and lottery tickets - 425 to be exact - turned into a sizzling tangerine gown for someone feeling lucky.
That’s the kind of magic that happens when 20-local fashion designers are unleashed from the confines of fabric. It’s called Fabric-Free Fashion and these designers have turned the mundane into magnificent and brought to life some glam designs even Vogue would be proud to have on the cover.

At first glance, many of the garments on display hold the illusion of fabric. The textures flow, the colors pop and shimmer and the material cinches in all the right places. But after a closer look the senses start to awaken to discover ordinary items repurposed into not so ordinary frocks – none of which are fabric.
My nose was drawn to one dress in particular. My nostrils flared as I sauntered by. My mouth watered. I was whisked back to my childhood for a fleeting moment. I wasn’t allowed to touch, but that didn’t stop me from sniffing. So that’s what I did - I took a sniff.  It was licorice, black twine – that chewy treat I savored in movie theaters as a child - turned into a little black dress perfect for a fancy shmancy cocktail party. From a distance, even a fashion maven wouldn’t guess it was edible. But the nose doesn’t lie and I’m sure the designer, Eduardo Torres, has proof in a receipt somewhere of the 9-pounds of licorice he ordered when he decided to spring to life R├ęglisse Noir.

The stories behind the designs are just as fascinating as the pieces themselves. A lot can be discovered about a particular artist when you learn what compelled them to create their masterpiece in the first place.
Keith Bonar was inspired to design Junk Mail Dress from over 300 pieces of junk mail he received and collected for 6-months.  He repurposed the paper into a fun, snappy dress with sass and attitude to remind us of the unnecessary waste that clogs our mailboxes and our landfills.
Then there’s the designer Anna Walden, who fashioned her scoop-neck blouse It Happened One Night from video tape from a movie of the same name.  The real heart of the garment is in the fringe. Copper wire that once belonged to her now deceased Dad is used to embellish the trim like a delicate whisper.  

The stories abound in every garment. And as I strolled through the gallery it dawned on me that it was no coincidence this exhibit was on display in a museum best known for its quilts. Just as a quilt weaves together disparate pieces of fabric to tell a story, these designers have all woven stories of their own by stitching together inventive creations that give a small glimpse into their soul.

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