Diary of a Volunteer Model…
By Yana Passater
This past weekend the Greenheart Shop sponsored the Swap-O-Rama-Rama, an event dedicated to bringing creative people together with designers and craft artists who can show them how to make something really useful out of what they have lying around the house. Participants at the Swap bring a donation and a bag of unwanted clothes, and can take, or remake, anything else they find there. The goal of this weekend is not only to teach people to reuse and get creative, but also to raise money for the Chicago Waldorf School, which provided the event’s space, and the Three Sister’s Folk Art School.
This year’s Swap-O-Rama-Rama Chicago included more than just the clothing swap. Friday night the re:MAKE fashion show inspired and entertained guests by featuring local designers who used vintage and recycled materials in their collections. The show was very intimate. Audience members stood right on the Waldorf School’s auditorium stage, either around grey and blue fabric adorned cocktail tables or in creatively mismatched chairs. The T shaped cat walk came right up to the crowd so that models walked out from behind a blue curtain and directly up to the majority of the audience before turning right into the crowd for a pause, a pose, and a spin. None of the audience members would have missed the new detail of the recreated pillow cases, bed sheets, curtains, and thrift. Nor would anyone have had less than a front row view of the gorgeous jewelry provided by Glory Jewelry Designs or Bee, LLC, two jewelry vendors which help promote social good and creative re-use through their lines.
Backstage was equally exciting, if not more, as models rushed to change from one outfit to the other before their next turn came rushing up. We had been doing hair, makeup, and run throughs for more than 5 hours, and all of that calm and organized preparation boiled down to three 30 second long flashes of re-made glamour. Like the cloth which had already lived through its years as one thing and been made into another, we were prepped and coached into walking, living, color and form.
Of the four outfits that I was supposed to wear, only two made it out on time, and a last one was exposed only when the final flood of models came out at the very end. The first was a blue and white stripe sailor style dress with a V-cut neckline and a flirty short skirt by designer Jennifer Lezan. The necklace that she chose for me from the back of the auditorium, where the jewelry was being displayed and sold, looked a lot like the Silver Lace Necklace we have in the store, as it had a detailed cut metal design and a wispy, sexy feel. The second outfit, by Jenni Guarascio, played on the Alice in Wonderland theme. I was the Mad Hatter, in a psychedelic short green dress, brown vest, and scarf around my waste. I’m not sure what materials Jenni used to create the dress and vest, but the creative and colorful combination of variously textured cloth reminded me of the bright, spring jewelry we just got in at the store. (Making fashion out of scratch/scrap is such an excitingly green idea!) The last dress was made by Dani Johnson. It had pin stripes, and may have been a suit or a suit shirt at one time. Like the rest of Dani’s line it was creative, yet classy.
In all, the amount of re-made fashion that I saw at this show was phenomenal. At the store I had seen scarves made out of old saris, purses, wallets, and earrings made out of bottle caps, wallets made out of truck tires, and jewelry made out of magazines, but I never thought to imagine that my old pillow sham might easily make an exquisitely high fashion gown! I hope that the wonderful people who came to watch the show and support the event got as much out of it as I. At least the fascinating gentlemen and lady who exchanged courtesies with me at the after party seemed to have enjoyed it. In the very least, I’m sure that the show got much of the audience thinking and imagining what exactly they’re really sleeping in and throwing away.