‘Trashion Show’ returns to Opal Center

Desiree Kuenkele puts her outfit on full display during the Trashion Show. [Photo by Damien Sherwood]

For those with an eclectic taste for the fusion of trash and fashion, Opal Center for Arts and Education quenched that unique thirst last weekend.

Breaking a three-year hiatus, Trashion Show returned to Opal Center for its first production since 2019.

“It’s today’s fashion made out of garbage,” said the Opal Center’s Executive Director Michele Rose with a laugh. “It’s recycled, it’s reused, it’s what would normally go to the landfill.”

Trashion shows can be found worldwide, celebrating creative wearable designs with throw-away items, all while promoting waste reduction and sustainability.

For the Opal Center show, 13 designers ranging in age from four to 75 put their creativity on display as 35 models (including several of the designers themselves) took to the catwalk in all manner of repurposed refuse and reimagined materials.

Candy wrappers, shower curtains and pill bottles were all fair game in an exhibition of theatrical, innovative and even elegant design ideas.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Rose. “The creativity this year is over the top. I think the last few years have fueled this other energy and I am blown away.”

Models titillated the audience before each strut down the catwalk by performing a silhouetted dance behind a screen, eliciting an electric reception of yips and howls.

“It’s the best show we’ve ever done,” said Rose. “We love our audience. It’s what fuels us.”

Three shows between Friday and Saturday sold out to full houses, causing organizers to worry they would have to turn people away.

“So we added a Sunday show,” Rose said, “which sold out very quickly.”

Designers were mainly local, though two seasoned trashion designers from Eugene joined this year’s roster.

“We have a few people that are seamstresses who actually do professional sewing, but most of the designers are not; they’re artists,” said Rose.

For organizers, the success of the show was also an affirmation of the desire for local art and theater.

“We are one of the lucky small art theaters that survived the last few years because people have been donors and sponsors and then the grants that we’ve been able to get,” said Rose. “Sponsors like MECCA, Goodwill Industries of Lane County and Oregon Arts Commission played a big part in helping us be here.”

With the momentum of last weekend’s shows, Trashion Show seems slated to make a solid return to Opal Center’s list of annual projects. Organizers are aiming to attract even more designers for 2023.

“We already have ideas for next year,” said Rose.

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