Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I really must learn more about Amish quilting. If there’s one thing the 5th annual Discarded to Divine gala firmly implanted in my mind is that inspiration can come from anywhere and anything. True, the students who crafted their masterpieces out of discarded duds received their inspiration in the form of the De Young Museum, but turning the simplicity of the Amish into a va-va-voom one shouldered bias-cut dress that hugs in all the right places takes a certain kind of talent. For FIDM Student Nicole Villa, it was the piercing of the bodice that the quilts inspired in her “Abstract Symmetry.” For student Taisja Maxfield, also from FIDM, her “Beaded Silk Tulip Dress” didn’t revert to the bold color palette used in many of the other Amish inspired pieces – instead she crafted a thoughtful and elegant party dress, that had I received a bidder number, would have tried my fiscal best for.
Not that my bid was particularly needed. The event, held in support of The St. Vincent De Paul Society, raised close to $80,000 between the silent and live auctions. The now annual event, brainchild of the Society’s Sally Rosen has become more than just a charity fashion show. It’s provided a platform to show firsthand how easy sustainable fashion can be. As supporters of the eco-fashion movement we know that a key part of dressing environmentally chic is learning how to reuse and rework what we already have. What better way to be inspired by those old pair of Banana Republic trousers in your closet than watching a belted trench coat fashioned together from two linen tablecloths be auctioned off in a fierce bidding war for $1500?
The Amish-inspired pieces represented just a fraction of the collection students and guest designers (including local designers Colleen Quen and Christopher Collins, Project Runway alumni Sweet Pea Vaughn and Jay Nicolas Sario, and the event’s winner for Best In Women’s Daywear, Coral Castillo) created for the competition. While Project Runway’s recent favorite Sario showed a military inspired vest for the live auction, his cocktail dress out of tweed and Fiji water bottles (yes really!) was the talk of the pre-show reception and the source of many flashbulbs in the room.
One of my favorites, the Dreamscape Waterfall dress by Joseph Singh took in only $300 during the auction, but its Japanese Tea Garden inspired shimmers and colors reminiscent of a Monet painting were truly spectacular, if not a little too tame for the crowd who cheered for the edgier styles. Castillo’s “Green Butterfly” took in $800 but with over fifty pieces of fabric used to sew the tunic-style dress, well worth the cost.
While most of the designers opted for dressier pieces, Dawn Castel’s “Lavender Silk Jacket with Border Panels” was a popular bid for its casual coolness and detail on the sleeves and hem. And there was even something for the kids. Nancy Martin’s winning “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” was so mod in its swinging shape and blue quilted hexagon pattern I’m kind of hoping for an adult version. Sally Rosen should now feel fully inducted into the fashion community at the creation of The “Sally” Bag by Ray Gin. Practical and sturdy, I feel a collection coming on. I can’t forget to mention the jewelry and eclectic pieces of home décor that were also included in the silent auction. There was room for pillows, scarves and even a set of repurposed potholders.
And should we forget the true purpose of the event, Sally Rosen came up with the idea after feeling disheartened over all of the donations that were too dirty or worn to make any use of. By showing the recipients who are often “discarded” by society that they too deserve respect and dignity, their lives have the chance to be renewed. So who thinks fashion is superficial?
Photos by Warren Difranco Hsu/After5Media