‘Trashy' and Trendy Fashions Hit the Stage

Though high fashion usually involves silks, satins and chiffons, today’s 11 a.m. “Recycle the Runway” event from the Danbury Fair Mall and Housatonic Valley Cultural Alliances had much different materials.

A competition between eco-designers designers Gianna D’Amico from Bethel, Karen Lewis-Booth, from Newtown, and Jane Herschlag from Danbury, “Recycle the Runway” contestants had one hour to create a dress out of recycled materials, including old brown packing paper, milk jugs, used newspapers, pumpkin stems, old cardboard, and a variety of other items. The winner receives a $500 gift card. 

“We created the idea as part of the community imitative and sustainability practice that we carry out all year,” Melissa Eigen, the marketing manager for the Danbury Fair, said. “We wanted a stylish nod to Earth Day, and what better way than to have local artists create dresses?”

Eigen said contestants were chosen for the “Project Runway”-like event after casting calls in the media drew in multiple applications from musicians, artists and designers alike.

Chosen for their accomplishments and artistic vision, the contestants have diverse backgrounds and experience levels.

D’Amico, 17, is a high school senior at Bethel High planning to study art at the University of Hartford in the fall. Herschlag has experience in home decorating and lingerie design, and Booth has done fashion work for the last three years and is known for using recycled National Geographics to make bracelets.

So who are the women deemed worthy of judging the trashy-chic fashionistas?

Three local fashion insiders, Carter Boyajian of New Fairfield, Jennifer Moon Kozlowski of New Canaan and Kristen Jensen of Bethel, judged the competition.

Boyajian is a designer and founder of Just Carter Co., and is a representative and member of the Board of Directors, Housatonic Valley Cultural Alliance, and is joined by Kozlowski, the founder of Closet Raiders, a wardrobe consulting and closet organizing service, and has been a student of the fashion industry for many years.   

Jensen is the owner of Kristen Jensen Photography, and is a former international Ford model. She is a contributing photographer for Ridgefield and Bedford Magazines, and was recently featured in Swiss Air Magazine. She is also a Member of the Housatonic Valley Cultural Alliance.

The works of art will be on display in center court from April 21 to May 19. Customers can vote on their favorite dress at customer service and the designer with the most votes will receive $100.

Want to host your own “Recycle the Runway” event? The Department of Environmental Protection offers a play kit containing a sample script, some accessories and clothing made from recycled materials for rent from the DEP offices at 79 Elm Street, Hartford.

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