Talkin’ trash

Trashion final 1

Ever wondered what to do with those old dust collector bags that won’t fit your new equipment? What about those lovely curls that piled up under your bench the last time you fitted a set of drawers?

I know. You thought they were trash. But no. An entirely new wardrobe awaits you–or your beloved–amid the detritus.

Each year Bloomington’s Center for Sustainable Living holds its Trashion-Refashion Show, a supremely ingenious event intended to raise funds for the CSL as well as encourage the responsible use (and reuse) of resources. After attending the event for the first time a few years ago at the urging of my friend Lee Sandweiss, whose designs are always a hit (and who is a kick-ass model in her own right), I was so impressed by the production and overall insane fun of the enterprise, not to mention the great cause it aids, that I made NR Hiller Design, Inc. a regular sponsor.


Lee is on the right here with Christmas Tree model Nancy Wroblewski. Photo by Darryl Smith,

This year I finally submitted a design in the Trashion category and was thrilled to have Emily Winters as my model. I had seen her in action–taking minutes at long, sometimes tense, board meetings–and appreciated her blend of beauty and businesslike composure.

On a snowy winter’s night we convened in her kitchen to craft an ensemble out of discarded materials from the shop.

Trashion back

The bra consists of two used finish filters held together with strapping from discarded dust collector bags and a wire twist tie at the front. (The filters are painted–appropriately–with milk paint.)  Part of an old dust collector bag makes the ground of the skirt; it’s embellished with wood shavings and fastened by a sash of used plastic strapping from drawer slide deliveries. The final version of the skirt had a line of leaves and dried flowers from last fall running down the back.

Trashion final 3

The leaves don’t quite show up in this photo against the classy reproduction carpet background.

A boa of worn, hole-riddled dust collector hose saved Emily from showing more skin than she wanted to; thanks to Lee for suggesting that I add something like a shawl to the basic plan. Finally, an exquisite bird’s nest discarded by its erstwhile inhabitant made an elegant crown.

It takes guts to stride out on a stage in front of a packed theater. Emily, you did it with class.

Professional photos here are by Michael Trace Photography.

And more thanks still to Lee for suggesting the last two words of the outfit’s final title, “Contemporary Wood Nymph.”

Watch a video and public media article about a previous year’s event.

2 responses to “Talkin’ trash

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