The first time I laid eyes on Robin Worley, she had blue hair and was dressed head to toe in trash. Had I seen her walking down the street, I would have thought she had lost a few marbles. The fact that she was the emcee for a trash fashion show I was watching made her incredibly clever and chic. They say you only have one chance...seven seconds...to make a first impression. Robin made the most of her seven seconds.
As she slowly and deliberately walked the catwalk in a striking blue ballgown hand crafted from a popped air mattress, I could tell she would be an influencer to many people in the audience that night. Some people just have a presence, and Robin is one of those people. She commands attention with very little effort. (The fact that she was decked out in rubbish didn't hurt either.)
Her gown was decorated with colorful bits of plastic that had all washed up on Kamilo Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii. Designed to highlight the growing problem of plastics pollution in our oceans, the dress was a fun, but graphic illustration of a huge, unfun problem.
That's Kamilo Beach in the photo below. That trash is a foot deep and in some places, may be up to 10 feet high. Not the image that usually comes to mind when you think of Hawaiian beaches, is it?
Clean-up efforts are ongoing, but with an endless supply of marine debris, the trash keeps piling up. The BBC has given Kamilo Beach the unfortunate distinction of being "The Dirtiest Beach in the World." Watch to video below to see why...
Sadly, Kamilo Beach isn't the only beach like this. There are thousands.
Robin calmly continued her talk about the North Pacific Gyre and The Great Pacific Garbage Patch...a swirling vortex of trash (twice the size of Texas!) floating in the world's largest sea...that had likely been the source of the plastic bits adorning her gown.
After seeing Robin in her dress and hearing her speak about the problem, I wanted to learn more. I wanted to do more. I had been influenced. And that is exactly what trash fashion and trash art are all about. Teaching people to see garbage in a new way. Learning while having fun. Empowering people to change the way they view the world and take action to make it better.
Robin has been involved with trash fashion for over 20 years, working closely ith communities to educate audiences about the waste we all create. As a founding member of the non-profit group Haute Trash, she takes her talents up and down the west coast producing fashion shows, teaching design classes and advocating for change. At it's core, Haute Trash is dedicated to breaking down the boudaries of conventional beauty and fashion through humor and satire.
After watching the fashion show that night, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be a part of the fun. My entire career has revolved around fashion...previously as a visual merchandiser...more recently as a designer...but always without a real sense of purpose. This felt like something more. Something I could sink my heart and soul into. And thanks to Robin, I did.
A few months ago I shared some of my inspiration and a behind the scenes look at the 2011 ReStore Trash Fashion show that I participated in this past April. I am happy to tell you that I am now officially obsessed with trash and have already started to work on a collection of new trash fashion designs to be revealed in Seattle in June 2012. I'll be sharing my design process and more details about the event as things move along, so be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter to watch the projects unfold. And of course, if you subscribe to my blog or follow it on BlogLovin, you will get the full inside scoop on the event and the inspiration behind my work. XOXO, Cindi