A dress made out of tampons? Wearable art & fashion show will highlight creative “Threads”

What can you do with old postal bags or life vests?

A whole lot if you are an artist familiar with “wearable art.”

This Sunday, guests can see 20 new designs at a fashion show and event “Threads” at the Jersey City Museum on Feb. 24 at 1 p.m.

Presented by the gaia group (a collective of women artists based in Hoboken) and the museum, the show will highlight the work of 20 area artists who have created “wearable art” out of non-traditional materials.

According to Danielle Fotopoulos, a member of gaia and show coordinator, she’s been working with the museum for a year. The idea came about after the Jersey City Artists Studio Tour in 2006, when gaia members presented some wearable art in the tour called “a(d)dress.”

Fotopoulos said that they wanted to take it one step further and include a fashion show to display the art.

“It is more than just a fashion show,” said Fotopoulos, who explained that there is an artist talk before the show. “There are a few working with nontraditional fashion design.”

Fotopoulos said they wanted to show a variety of artists.

“We wanted to show how you can interpret wearable art,” said Fotopoulos. “Some think it is just a hand-painted t-shirt. So we wanted to incorporate different things. We wanted to do a little bit more than just a beautiful garment. We wanted to convey certain things.”

Ready for the catwalk

The artist talk will feature Despina Papadopoulos, a designer who also teaches at NYU.

“The talk will help the audience understand what the pieces are about,” said Fotopoulos.

Although there are 20 different artists in the show, more tried out. Fotopoulos said that there were 35 who applied to the call for the show which was juried.

“We wanted to get a variety of art, technology, and hand crafted materials,” said Fotopoulos. “We thought about what would be the best for a runway show.”

She added, “Some of them were great projects for a traditional show, but not runway ready and I didn’t want to have repeats. And we wanted to push the envelope a little. It was an opportunity for traditional designers to push the envelope.”

What you’ll see

According to Danielle Fotopoulos, many of the designers have created items that are innovative, yet practical. One designer made a wearable dress completely out of postal bags, and another designed a platform shoe that contains a cell phone in the heel that was designed with sex trade workers in mind. If the workers are in trouble they can simply press a button on the heel.

In addition to coordinating the show, Fotopoulos also has a piece in the show. She created a dress that is made entirely out of feminine hygiene products.

“I wanted to find something that was a little out of the box,” said Fotopoulos. “Something that was a little taboo – that people don’t just wave around. Some people are kind of shocked when they realize what it is. When you first look at it, you might not know what it is.”

She said that it was interesting to find that many of the brands’ feminine products were made differently, so she ended up using one brand to make the dress cohesive.

Several of the pieces touch on modern issues of personal safety, recycling, and privacy. One such safety piece is a bag that has gloves and a mask to protect one from the environment.

A somewhat whimsical piece is a personal cell phone booth that stows away in a backpack.

“When you receive a cell phone,” said Fotopoulos. “You can open it up and you can zip yourself into this booth. It is about personal space and privacy. Before [cell phones], you didn’t subject yourself to other people talking, or yourself.”

More to come

Immediately following the artist talk portion of the event, there will be a fashion show at 2 p.m. The runway show will run approximately an hour.

The artists and designers involved include: LoVid, Christina Mancuso, Johana Moscoso, Jenny Chowdhury, Julie Banciak, Kart Hartman, Juliana Cope, Gwen Charles, Pollie Barden, Geraldine Juarez, Norene Leddy, Gailene McGhee, St. Amand Zawadi, Giana Gonzalez, Sonali Sridhar, Danielle Fotopoulos, Stephanie Tichenor, James Tichenor, and Amanda Mayoff.

Several of the designers will model their own designs, and some of the more complicated items require a short demonstration. Several of the items are for sale and the museum will serve refreshments afterwards.

So how does she think the audience will react?

“I think it will be a learning experience for them,” said Fotopoulos. “I think some of the people that will come will be people interested in fashion. So people can take it to the next level as opposed to a traditional fashion show.”

The Jersey City Museum is located at 350 Montgomery St. in Jersey City. For more information, visit: www.jerseycitymuseum.org or call (201) 413-0303. Comments on this story can be sent to: current@hudsonreporter.com.


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