Re-purposed with style


POSTED: Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Next time you're contemplating dumping those old tablecloths or straw mats, think again. Students at La Pietra-Hawaii School for Girls did — and produced a miniature fashion show with articles made entirely from recycled materials.

Painters' coveralls, screen cloth, twine, glass beads and a plastic table runner were among items they collected for their fashion projects. “;We are trying to use materials that are not normally used in clothing,”; said volunteer project coordinator Fleur Stewart.

The coveralls became a paper dress that one of the students will wear. She'll spin around in a chair as the dress is splashed with three paints to add a splash of color, Stewart explained.

“;It's construction art, cut and paste. We are going for a visual look.”;

All of the clothing will be auctioned off Saturday at La Pietra's HOOPLA fundraiser. The event's “;Upcycled and Fresh”; theme focuses on the need for sustainability, economizing and finding innovative ways to use — and reuse — materials.

Several pieces for the fashion show were made by embellishing existing clothing. Re-purposed silver-green Armani trousers were paired with a checkered vest made of silver, green and brown place mats. Another outfit includes a bustier featuring a design cut from a previously owned Hermes scarf.

Many of the girls had sewing skills but never imagined working with such materials.

“;We worked with relatively simple products, but in the end it's pretty elaborate,”; said Michelle Chen, a 10th-grader. Normally when Michelle creates a dress, she heads to a store and buys three meters of fabric. She never imagined making clothing from ordinary, everyday items. “;It was a collaborative effort but we added our own flair. We always had a Plan B.”;

For 10th-grader Caelan Hughes, not knowing the outcome was the most fun. “;I'm used to knowing what something will look like. ... This taught us to think outside the box. It really changes your perspective of things.”;

Caelan has been sewing for a few years and is familiar with the fashion industry. “;My sister is in Florence studying fashion, and my mom was a swimsuit designer,”; she said. She hopes to follow in their footsteps.

Sabrina Banta, an 11th-grade student, makes clothing for herself and her family and plans to sew some of her friends' prom dresses. She has also established her own line of eco-friendly organic dresses for an independent school project.

“;Working with Fleur really challenged us. ... Seeing things she did gave me ideas for my own project,”; she said. “;Plus, using recycled things to make clothing is innovative and inspiring.”;