do I look trashy in this dress?

In its third year, the Junk to Funk fashion show has found a home in Portland. This is by no means a Hollywood, diamond encrusted, red carpet event. It is not a part of fashion week in New York. The designers showcased do not reside in the lap of exclusive fashion houses in Italy. Each piece is a one of a kind homage to recycled materials. Yes, the designers invoke a Galliano and McQueen call to arms for silhouettes, busty ball gowns, and couture feel, minus the lace, silk, chiffon, and taffeta. In their place, you will find bubble wrap, magazine and newspaper pages, bottle caps, old sheets, tires, wire hangers, video tape, balloons, feathers, old couch material, human hair, sticks, tents and a cornucopia of bags.

The pieces are judged upon the percentage of recycled components used, creativity and fit, of course. Imagine the childhood romps through old trunks in the attic, the imagination not stifled by age, but rather magnified through the looking glass of experimental design. At $20 dollars per ticket, no self-proclaimed artist in Portland should ever miss this show. Futuristic aesthetics lead into marvelous ball gowns Marie-Antoinette would have been proud to paint the town red in. It is easy to imagine most of the creations residing behind glass at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute. A glimpse into our world, a reflection of the devastation we leave daily in our wake, and the transformation it can undergo with the guidance of artistic vision. It should come as no great surprise that I would find it an honor to wear these walking works of art.

The show invokes images of the past & future united in a realm where power suits are made out of cat food bags, queens hold court in gowns made from vintage Vogue magazines, and Portland’s Major-Elect, Sam Adams, hosted the evening’s festivities dressed in a couture, plastic tuxedo jacket and bowtie.

The atmosphere is at Junk to Funk is playful and fun yet conscious. Everyone in the audience leaves with a tiny nestled scavenger nestled in their chest. On your way home, suddenly, the ordinary becomes transformed into limitless possibility. Garage sales, thrift stores, and the garbage cans of neighbors take on an elemental hue. The world we know becomes transformed into something exotic, trapped in neither the past nor present, but bursting into the future in torrents of paper, metal and plastic. Materials once discarded are turned into wearable works of art. Each piece reflects a time in our history, where we begun to reuse components of daily life to create future awareness.

Portland is the perfect eco friendly city to host such an event. An ode to fashion brought to life through recyclable materials. Portland, Oregon is known as “the City of Roses’ and has been called “the most sustainable city in the US”. It is a city a city dedicated to maintaining over 200 parks, 50 miles of trails, and remains interconnected through an award winning transit system. In 2000, Portland became home to the green Development Resource Center, encouraging and helping residents build, and maintain eco friendly homes. It is here, nestled alongside the green heart of Portland, that sustainability and fashion converge to test and exalt the borders of what we can recycle. Objects of found art are surfacing as jewelry pieces, and recycled couture, creating a stunning display of craftsmanship, innovation and awareness. We are ready to wear what we were.

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