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One man’s trash is another man’s fashion treasures

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Where one person may see a pile of garbage, another might envision haute couture.

To prove the point, more than two dozen women modeled dresses created from recycled materials during last weekend’s Trashion Fashion Show at the Queens Botanical Garden.

“What you are going to see is designs that will make you rethink waste,” Amy Merli, founder of the Trashion show said. “I had such a wonderful mix of designs [in NYC] compared to our other shows.”

Designers had to create clothes out of garbage, changing waste into exquisite eco-friendly outfits.

The garden was buzzing with viewers, insects and birds on a sunny Father’s Day as models strutted down the runway in their dresses.

Queens Botanical Garden Executive Director Susan Lacerte talked about living more environmentally and said the fashion show “inspires us every day to think what trash we can use.”

To violinist David Marks’ playing, models sashayed down the outdoor runway, passing shrubs and flowers and stopping for audience members to take photos. Many models were ballerinas, dancing down the runway in pointe shoes and striking athletic poses in their stunning dresses.

Designer Mary Ambrose made three pieces for the show, all part of her growing collection called Bird.

The piece called Wild Bird Seed is made out of a bird-seed sack and was accessorized by a hat topped with a stuffed green bird. Another piece called Raven was worn by a fierce model with a feather fashioned to one of her eye’s lashes. The dress could easily be worn for a fancy night out on the town. Using a template, Ambrose cut each feather for the Raven dress out of bicycle tire inner-tubes, which she said was a very forgiving material. The result was a black dress that looked as sleek and chic as leather. It was subtly highlighted with ruby red gems, some of which were fashioned into a bracelet as well.

“Everybody’s got jewelry that I made,” Ambrose pointed out. “The shawl [referring to the third piece] is all tire. There’s a small hole in it. The local bike store saves the tires for me.”

Another dashing example was a bridal gown fashioned by designer and wedding planner Pamela Bartlett. She posted a photo of a design on Instagram she made for a trashion show back home in Rhode Island, and was contacted by the organizers of the Queens show, who asked her to take part.

“These are grocery store shopping bags and beer can tabs that I painted white. I took quilting for a few years and got inspired,” Bartlett said. “The bouquet is brooches and pins all together. Many are from my grandmother and I wanted to bring her with me.”

The tabs had actually been woven together with the white shopping bags very smoothly and some tabs were kept silver, making a diamond design running down the front, into a triangle cut down the front to leave room for walking legs. Bartlett said that all the materials are made from garbage. It took her 180 hours of time and more than 5,000 can tabs, which she collected from family and friends who saw her requests on Facebook.

The bride modeling the dress, is actually to be married in August and has been Bartlett’s model before.

“It’s a little sticky walking and I can only get so far. I can’t use the bathroom or anything like that in it and by the end of the day it’s a little heavy,” she said.

Merli currently participates in education programs in public and charter schools doing creative art-based programs using reusable materials as well as science and environmental protection courses to teach students about preserving our world.

Updated 2:53 pm, June 25, 2015
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