Curbside Couture 2015
Sixteen art students ventured into another season of striving to create couture outfits from recycled and repurposed materials into wearable garments. We started in September and it concluded in on April 12th at the Clinton Presidential Center. It was a long journey with many bumps in the road.
If you are an artist you understand that what you conceive as an idea may not actually be the end result. Since we are not doing this as a studio art course and it’s only volunteers who participate. It limits the amount of time we have available to do the creating. Balancing all of our academics and athletic responsibilities is a challenge on it’s own. Then you add up the hours to be successful at this project and you understand why some students do not participate. This project takes guts.
I start collecting and storing materials all year long for the possibility that the materials may be chosen to be used on a garment. I encourage people in my school community to bring in anything they might feel we could use for the designs. I have strong community support and I nurture it often. So I end up with loads of very interesting stuff.
My students will collect a lot of their own materials too, especially if they have a strong vision for the concept. This project is not for anyone who is particular about being super neat but it will require organization.
The projects start either from an inspired sketch or by the actual materials. Our garments are created to fit the student models that have decided to be a big part of the process. Our models are not just hangers that wear our garments on the runway. Our models help with the construction, offer opinions, and dedicate hours of time to be available to constantly make adjustments to the design. The pieces are more like sculptures that move and fit like garments.
Pointers for the art teacher or students:
- My advice to new students is to work on looking at what you like in fashion. I created a Pinterest Board for inspiration and I encourage my students to create their own inspiration board or have a sketchbook.
- Second bit of advise is to rummage through the materials we already have in the studio for the project and figure out ways to reimage the materials in new ways.
- Ask these questions: Can it be painted, cut up, weaved, braided, and or layered.
- Ask questions on what can be changed? Color is an element to make a decision about, shapes are also a decision, dimensions in relation to the size of the model, what will move well and be comfortable?
- I emphasize changing the materials so it looks like wearable beautiful garments. I want the viewers to see the garment and then wonder what is it made of not the other way around. It should surprise the viewer with how it is made and what it is made of.
This year I sat relatively invisible in the crowd and listened to the people in the audience as my students walked the runway. I heard people say “I’d wear that!” “Wow!”, “Episcopal Students pieces are always so good”. I am bursting with pride when people say wonderful things when they have no idea I am their teacher.
The show was a success because we had created dynamic and exciting garments. I was successful because I was able to get this group through another season of the recycle fashion show. It is a season and it is a long one with many hours outside of my regular school hours. I have had amazing talks with the students at our Saturday workshops. I learned so much about them. We laugh, we goof off, and we get to know one another. We build a level of trust and I love it. It is one of the most important elements of being successful with students. Building a community around positive and active ways to create art and make a difference in their lives. The art part will be the extra.
This year we are graduating three seniors. One of the seniors has been with me since the very first year of our venture in recycled fashion. The beginning was all new for me. I had a steep learning curve but it was fun because we were all doing it together. She has participated every year creating wonderful designs and encouraged others to get involved and take the risk. Although she may not have gotten the big prize, she has proven herself to all of us over and over. I am so very proud of her and I will miss having her in my studio.
I will also be losing my right hand for Homes for Haiti and our runway backdrop designer for the past two years. She is our cheerleader, a model, and always offers assistance.
Our last senior has only been doing the show for one year and she did a great job. She did not give up and she created a fun and inspired design and it was one of the favorites of my art teacher friends.
Lucky for me, I get to repeat again next year with a bunch of experienced and creative juniors. “Look out! We are coming hard next year.”
We not only had 16 students involved in the runway show but I had a bunch of student volunteers at the fashion bazaar selling our Homes for Haiti. We have been creating our pins, magnets, and ornament since the devastating earthquake in Haiti and five years later, $65,000 later we are still going strong. On this night we raised $80.00 at the runway show.
This event is a great opportunity to showcase what “art in action”, can do in helping young people realize new talents, take risks at being original, and to help students find ways to make the world a better place.
Reimagining materials that would fill up our landfills and creating an amazing event that hundreds people come to see. The room was filled to capacity with viewers lining all the walls, standing up to see what all the students created.
As an art educator witnessing this was awe-inspiring. If only more individuals, who make the decisions about cutting the arts, could realize the power of art.
The transformative power art does for a community is amazing.
I always get sentimental with my students when they leave the studio. It is not so easy when you work hard for many hours through frustrations, problems, disappointments, and successes. We get attached. I know my students have had a great time and have fond memories from all the activities we have done. All the beautiful art is all gravy to me.