Haute Trashion on the Runway at the 5th Annual ReFashion Show

Marion Brite in "Dumpster Diety"

Marion Brite in "Dumpster Diety"

Couture met trash once again in Long Way Home’s annual Rubbish to Runway ReFashion Show on October 17 in Newburyport, MA.  Thirty-one different outfits made of post-consumer waste designed by 28 artists walked the runway to the applause of a sell-out crowd in what has become a trademark fundraiser for LWH.

Materials as varied as inflated plastic bags, curled surfing magazine pages, feather headdresses, old banners, and crocheted soda can tabs commanded the stage. Models as young as 10 walked to individually selected rock and pop tunes while emcee Frank Santorelli, comedian and past cast member of The Sopranos TV series, introduced both the artist, the ideas behind each design, and the model.

The dresses were displayed for a week following the R2R event at the Paula Estey Art Gallery (PEG), also located in Newburyport. Eight dresses with price tags were placed on dress forms among the art. The display captured the attention of walk-by visitors as well as brought in many who missed the Saturday night show.

Gown crafted from Benjamin Obdyke remnant

Gown crafted from Benjamin Obdyke remnant

“The dresses melded beautifully with the sculpture already in place and attracted a lot of window interest. One dress sold,” Estey said.

“Of course, once the event is over we begin planning for next year’s R2R. We have plans to change venues and open it up to 350 people next year. We also want to involve the manufacturers of the materials we use in more sponsorship opportunities. This year, the Benjamin Obdyke Company gave us a nice donation because a remnant of their interior rain-screen was used in an outfit. Getting the manufacturers involved raises the bar for their recycling practices and makes a sustainability statement,” said Elizabeth Rose, founder and director.

The R2R event raised $10,000 to begin a pilot breakfast program and support construction of a new cafeteria for the school campus. The target for the funds was selected after seven volunteers conducted physicals on the student body in May and discovered that many children were coming to school poorly fed.

Rendering of planned cafeteria/classroom by Bonnie Adams

Rendering of planned cafeteria/classroom by Bonnie Adams

LWH staffer Gabriela Queme further studied the nutrition of students over the summer. She found that 32% of students do not receive breakfast before school and an additional 4% only receive it sometimes. Even those that do get breakfast often get only a piece of bread and a cup of coffee. Parents frequently provide a sugary drink to quench children’s thirst because of the scarcity of good quality water. Here at Long Way Home we are taking a holistic approach to education, and this includes helping our students be physically and mentally prepared to learn. The new cafeteria and breakfast program will support these efforts in a huge way! Thank you to all the attendees, volunteers, donors and artists who made this year's Rubbish to Runway reFashion Show a tremendous success.

~Elizabeth Rose, LWH Board Member