BRATTLEBORO—Local and regional designers plan to blow out of the water the reputation that Vermonters are fashion-challenged with a major fundraiser for Brattleboro Area Hospice (BAH) on Saturday, Nov. 19.
The “Wild Night on the Catwalk: Compassion for Fashion” runway show will feature designers’ one-of-a-kind creations using repurposed fashions.
The program will benefit Brattleboro Area Hospice and its Experienced Goods Thrift Shops.
“The Runway Show will take the idea of ‘re-fashioning’ to a whole new level,” said BAH executive director Susan Parris.
Hospice received a huge blow when flooding from Tropical Storm Irene on Aug. 28 inundated Flat Street, and filled the thrift shop in the Transportation Center with muck and tens of thousands of gallons of water.
About 50 percent of the store’s inventory was destroyed.
“Now more than ever, we need the community’s help,” Parris said.
The fundraiser intends to draw attention to the used clothing, part of a retail mix in the two stores — the thrift store, as well as Experienced Goods Home Furnishings on Elliot Street — that generate about 65 percent of the nonprofit’s operating budget.
“By dramatizing the recycling aesthetic with an extraordinary and dramatically different runway event, featuring local and regional designers, professional models, hairdressers, makeup artists, music and lighting, we hope to encourage more people to shop for used clothing and also to donate,” Parris said.
Thrift stores have long been the place for hip, vintage clothing for frugal fashionistas or the just plain broke. But now, thrift store shopping also appeals to shoppers who are aware of helping the environment.
“Textiles are becoming one of the fastest-growing sectors in landfills,” according to a BAH news release. “America throws away two quadrillion pounds of used clothing each year.”
Brattleboro resident and designer Pamela Moore combined repurposed and new fabrics in her three designs due to strut the runway Saturday night.
“Fashion is how we express ourselves on a daily basis, without saying a word,” Moore said.
She loves fashion because it “reflects the changing climate of people’s attitude” faster than any decorative art.
Moore, who loves finding hidden gems in thrift stores, incorporated a found underskirt into a designed “chic black dress.”
She also “reinvented” a woolen coat from the 1940s with a “zero waste” skirt for a second outfit, and created an ivory “fantasy dress” for a third look.
The goal of zero-waste clothing, explained Moore, is to create a garment with little to no leftover fabric. The finished clothes have fewer curves to minimize scraps, she said.
According to Moore, the modern zero-waste movement in clothing design has roots in environmentalism, but stretches back to ancient times, when the process that transformed raw material into textiles — from growing flax or sheep for wool, to spinning, to weaving to sewing — was labor intensive.
She agreed to design for the hospice fundraiser because she believes the organization benefits the community.
“It’s near and dear to my heart,” she said, saying that hospice supported her father during the final 3½ weeks of his life.
Her father stayed in a hospice room those last weeks. It was near Thanksgiving, she remembers, and the family held a full Thanksgiving dinner for him in that room — a gathering that probably would have not happened in a traditional hospital room.Moore, who owns Pamela Moore Bridals in Keene, N.H., said her grandmother taught her to sew at the age of 3 or 4.
According to Moore, her grandmother would give her a sewing project figuring that if the child was interested she would ask questions. If not, she “would go away.”
“You asked a lot of questions,” Moore’s grandmother later told her.
Moore remembers making one of her first dresses at age 6 by spreading out on a piece of fabric like she was “making a snow angel” and drawing around her body with a crayon.
Her grandmother, born in 1900, always had a crossword puzzle, a jigsaw puzzle, or a sewing project going, she said.
Moore added that her grandmother didn’t teach her how to design clothes but that both her parents had “artistic leanings.”
Moore’s father worked in the printing and graphic design field, while her mother, although unpublished, wrote and illustrated her own children’s books.
When Moore was a high school student in the 1970s, her mother arranged for her to apprentice with J. Herbert Callister, a costume and textile curator at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn.
“When you work on Emperor Napoleon’s clothes,” she said, “you get a different take on fashion.”
‘Aura, fun, glitz, and experience’
In addition to Moore, other local and regional designers behind the runway looks include Truly Alvarenga (Hanover, N.H.), Maria Pugnetti (Brattleboro), Alice Fogel (Acworth, N.H.), Rene Gerrior (Hartland, Vt.); Cindy Leszczak (West Townshend), Maia Bissette (Brattleboro), Kris McDermet (Brattleboro); Cynthia Nims (Greenfield, Mass.), and Benjamin Clark (Brattleboro).
Audience members can also participate in the Not So Silent Auction, featuring “vignettes to dramatize the auction items.”
Auction items include stays in apartments or homes in Florida, Italy, New York, and Boston.
According to the organizers, the Boston package includes tickets to the New England Patriots game on New Year’s Day in Foxboro, as well as tickets to a Boston Red Sox game in 2012.
The event organizers also promise all the “the aura, fun, glitz, and experience of a high-style New York Fashion Week show,” provided by volunteer production group Team Décor.
Radio host Monte Belmonte of WRSI/The River will serve as the master of ceremonies. Desha Peacock, the self-described lover of fashion and design, blogger and life coach behind The Desha Show, will host the red carpet.
The Shelburne Museum has also loaned the winning Curators Choice design from the museum’s “IN FASHION: High Style, 1690-2011” exhibit. Kyle Edmund Pearson, a student from the Fashion Institute of Technology, created the winning design for a competition sponsored by the museum.
Hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and drinks will be provided, by local sources that include Terri Ziter, Sharon Myers Fine Catering and Kris McDermet, Tristan Toleno, Our Lady of Fatima Guild, and the Twin Valley Junior Iron Chefs. A full cash bar will be available courtesy of Avigliano Catering (a division of Honora Winery & Vineyard in West Halifax).