The Fashion of TRASHion Lights Up Downtown LA
By Kathy Leonardo
It was 9:30 at night, just east of downtown LA. If it wasn’t a trusted friend inviting me to attend a fashion show in this desolate part of town, I might have worried that he was about to do me in and dump the body. I’ll admit that being from New York, I am naturally cautious. However, the dimly lit warehouses and dark abandoned streets would have made anyone uneasy. As we drove under a secluded overpass, we noticed (with much relief) a flicker of light, a trendy crowd, the thumping bass of a DJ.
The fashion show (or TRASHion Show, as it was touted) took place on Saturday, June 16 and featured a bodacious use of recycled objects turned into extravagant wearable art. This pop-up event was literally held under a freeway overpass. The stone cold concrete was a stark backdrop against the flamboyant outfits worn by sexy girls and boys in strappy stilettos and boots. The event was produced by Christine Spehar and Jessie Anderson from the non-profit organization RuckusRoots, with Michal Menert of Pretty Lights Music. Proceeds from the benefit will go to supporting sustainable arts education programs for under-served teens in East LA. The mission of RuckusRoots is to unite art and activism, or as they cleverly call it “ARTivism,” further explaining it as “giving young adults a creative voice in the eco-activism community through interactive art and music installations.”
Designer Marina Debris moved to Venice from Australia and was horrified to see the amount of garbage left on the shore. After continuously trying to clean up the beach, she realized there was a way to re-use the discarded items. Debris has a sense of humor and pokes fun, while staying true to her message. One of her designs included used paper plates and cups found on the beach. As she puts it, “The waste we create keeps coming back to haunt us.” Susan Spehar created an entire dress out of paper. I questioned the model wearing it who happened to be her daughter, Stephanie Spehar. She informed me that the full-length dress was entirely made out of CD inserts from her old music collection. Her mom (the designer) chimed in, “This collection is dedicated to all those parents who still have boxes of stuff left behind by their children.” The entire family is involved in the business, which is called “Paper Botanicals.” In fact, Susan’s other daughter, Christine Spehar was one of the producers of the fashion show. Another incredibly inventive piece was a stunning white dress completely covered in plastic spoons and forks. Enthusiastically received by the crowd, this dress was created by “Psycho Girlfriend” a wearable art team that combines the talents of artists/designers Vanessa Bonet and Kasey McMahon.
This grass-roots and innovative event certainly did feed our sense of adventure for the evening. Although I was unable to reach the producers of the event the next day, I am left to assume between the $20 admission charge and the cash bar, the benefit was able to raise some funds while inspiring the next generation of fashionistas.
Kathy Leonardo has been writing about art and entertainment events for the past 13 years. She runs an event listing website, http://www.laartparty.com which features weekly art and entertainment events in the Los Angeles area. She also currently has a column in the Santa Monica Mirror entitled “Talk of the Town.” Her work has been published in/on many publications and websites such as Artslant, The Beverly Hills Courier, Campus Circle, LA Weekly, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The West Hollywood Independent and many of the AOL owned Patch sites. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org 682 587-7766.
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