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Green is the New Black: Discard Avant Garb 2011 Fashion Show

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Discard Avant Garb Fashion Show 2011 at Grand Street Community Arts, Review

Albany’s Annual Discard Avant Garb Brings Fun and Innovative Fashion to the Forefront

Discard Avant Garb 2011. Photo by Aubree CutkompBeing green is in. While the designs on the 11th Discard Avant Garb runway were not all necessarily the color green, they were all recycled materials transformed into pieces of wearable art.

The highly anticipated return of the trashtastic fashion show was welcomed with a full house (er, well, church) at Grand Street Community Arts in downtown Albany. Taking a year off last year, this year’s show was dedicated to the late Oakley Hall III and Nadia Trinkala; two individuals “whose passing has left a huge void in the Albany Art scene.”

All in good fun and for a good cause, proceeds from the show (held on September 10th) were a benefit for the Grand Street Community Arts and the Christopher Ryan Art Scholarship, which is awarded yearly to an Albany High student pursuing an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts.

This year’s line-up included 21 designers, with Amy Orr, Katie Pray and Mischel Nivens as the night’s spotlight designers.

Looking at all the pictures from NYC’s fashion week thus far is quite the departure from the scene last Saturday night. While everyone in the city was sitting with crossed arms and rigid faces, the art party of the year was having a catwalk extravaganza. The only stuffy thing in the place was the newspaper-filled dragon prop that belonged to the first model. Once the emcee, Mary Panza greeted the audience with a good ‘ol, “Hey Bitches!”… from there on out the tone for the night was set, if it hadn’t already been.

Discard Avant Garb 2011. Photo by Aubree CutkompThe show has built a reputation for being wacky, yet incredibly creative. The designs the artists actualize out of seemingly bizarre and worthless objects is awe-inspiring. I can’t think of anywhere else where you can see outfits made out of molded dryer lint, Japanese beetle carcasses, a waterbed bladder, scratched-off lottery tickets and ceiling fan pieces.

Everything that walked down the runway made me say “huh?”– the majority of which was in a good way, and while I can’t share every look I saw, here’s a few of the fun, fearless fashions:

Designer Lady Button strutted her [pregnant] stuff in her own design–a periwinkle, pink and yellow crocheted bikini made out of yarn remnants that wasentitled “Flower Child”; she blew bubbles into the audience asserting her flower power.

Tom D’Ambrose, a friend who worked closely with Nadia Trinkala created his piece for the show out of wallpaper given to him by Trinkala. The peach-colored design had a Parisian feel with a flared up skirt, matching beret, black tights and gloves.

Designer Nikki Pison lurched out in her own design, Orphan Clown. She was veiled and abnormally tall. To the audience’s surprise, she was neither the Orphan Clown or that tall; midway down the runway, the “clown” emerged from under her large-hoop skirt, which was made up of five-year old tractor tarp, a pride flag, vintage tarot cards, salvaged plastic gift bags from a failed business, poultry wire and shower netting. They performed a mystical dance and rocked the runway together.

Jean Kruger Owner’s design, “Lady Fortuna, Goddess of Luck” (modeled by Olivia Tripodi) appropriately walked out onto the catwalk to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” in a dress fit for the Queen of Hearts. The dress’s bodice was a strapless bra from Goodwill covered in retired poker chips and Bingo balls, with the skirt made up of found playing cards.

Discard Avant Garb 2011. Photo by Aubree CutkompSpeaking of Queens… Spotlight Designer Amy Orr and her models, The Killer Queens (Elizabeth, Victoria and Marie Antoinette) were a chic and fierce threesome. Queen Elizabeth’s short green dress (modeled by Jen) looked like an authentic, yet more fashionable version of something that Queen Elizabeth would have worn herself – made from pleated phonebook pages, raffia, computer keys, wire and mesh screen, inflated plastic mailing wrap, paper máché and of course, lots of duct tape. The look was complete with a phonebook page, pleated hand fan and a packing peanut Rococo “wig.” The packing peanuts were an ingenious idea to produce that super-tight curled look.

Katie Pray, another Spotlight Designer, is no stranger to the runway. Although fairly new to the world of fashion, Pray jumpstarted her design career as the winner from the 1st annual Project Larkway and has been a DAG participant since ’07. Her Zipper Dress in this year’s show has toured around the country in other fashion shows and was one of my favorite designs. Out of all the designers’ fashions, Prey’s is the most wearable; in fact, I would wear all three.

The show was wild and wildly fun and I can’t wait to see what is dreamed up for next year. In addition to the fashion show, there was a silent art auction and performance art installations that were just as eclectic as the fashions of the night.

And I haven’t looked at my garbage the same way since…

Aubree Cutkomp is an Assistant Editor for The Free George. Photos by Aubree Cutkomp.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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