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Haute Trash creates novel fashions

Carol Feineman

Imagine that you’re one of the rich and famous – perhaps Enron’s Ken Lay or domestic tycoon Martha Stewart – planning your first federal penitentiary dinner. Since first impressions are so important, what do you wear as you greet your new cellmates for the first time?

Or what if the “man of the house” wants to show his special appreciation to his “little lady,” the model housewife who cooks, cleans, nurtures and looks pretty just for him. How about a new dress, completely stain-resistant so she has one less thing to keep clean?

The scenarios above are not part of “Saturday Night Live” or MADtv comedy sketches; they’re just two of 75 story snippets explaining the history behind environmentally conscious outfits to be modeled in Haute Trash’s “A Tribute to Trash: The Fall 2004 Collection” Friday and Saturday at the Center for the Arts.

Regarding the penitentiary dinner, the men’s apparel will include a dinner jacket and trousers made out of recycled United States mint moneybags and decorated with coins. The women’s apparel will include similar moneybags cut into a dress.

For the housewife’s apparel, visualize a plastic dress made from a retro red polka dot shower curtain along with a white apron.

Although these outfits are jazzy, colorful and imaginative, don’t expect to see fine silks, linens and cottons. Only trash or recycled items can be used in the outfits.

For example, a longtime Haute Trash designer who goes by the pseudonym of Elvira Mental Werks will debut her casual-wear outfit, “Black and White and Red All Over,” made out of The Union newspaper sections.

And Kathi Griffis, who since 2000 has produced the occasional Haute Trash shows, recently made an innovative dress out of eighth-place ribbons no longer used in the Nevada County Fair’s Draft Horse Classic.

“The old ribbons are high-quality satin material with gold writing, which says ‘Draft Horse Classic.’ I made the ribbons into an empire-waist dress, which is really pretty,” Griffis said.

The show’s producer, who likes to promote recycling on a regular basis, along with Rebella Star and StyraFoma Della, entered three dresses in a creative arts competition sponsored by American Spirit Cigarettes. They won first prize last month.

“Out of 900 entries, this was the only recycled entry,” Griffis pointed out. “Most of the entries were paintings or a hand-carved pipe. We were trying to portray the theme of ‘Spirit of the Land’ by sharing our views about recycling and preserving the land for future generations.”

Haute Trash volunteer designers, mostly from Nevada County, have put on shows here since 1983 to promote recycling. Since 2003, Haute Trash has branched out to include gigs at the Oregon Country Fair and in Seattle, Sacramento and San Francisco. Nevada County Recycles, which sponsors this show, also sponsored Haute Trash’s appearance at the last Nevada County Fair.

“The purpose of the shows is to raise people’s awareness of waste and get people to laugh at ourselves and how wasteful society can be,” Griffis said. “We have to rethink about what we waste and the things we buy that could be packaged a little different.”

Outfits are usually humorous, poking fun at fashion and politics.

And while Haute Trash fashions aren’t yet practical like store-brought clothes – 75 percent of the outfits don’t allow the wearer to sit and are not very durable- the fashions are still stylish.

“A lot of the designers are creating fashions over the top. It’s high fashion comparable to what you’d see on the runway,” Griffis promised.

A total of 14 designers has created this weekend’s 75 outfits, which are in casual wear, swimwear, evening wear and after-hours wear categories. Other designers include Prima Debris, Zukidee, Racey Garbaj, Redusa D’Trash, Miss Taken Tablecloth, Radiant Waste Productions, Mr. Trashwell, Joy Knowles, Teea’s Pampered Trash and Chromasona.

As the models are on the runway, Deejay Bobby will provide background music and emcee John Deaderick will talk about the outfits.


In conjunction with the two fashion shows this weekend, Haute Trash presents a retrospective/art show through the end of October at the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center. The display includes photos, outfits, old show fliers and an ongoing slide show. Viewing hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Schoolhouse is at 17894 Tyler Foote Crossing Road on the San Juan Ridge. Call 265-2826 for more information.


WHAT: Haute Trash presents “A Tribute To Trash: The Fall 2004 Collection”

WHEN: Friday, Saturday at 8 p.m.

WHERE: Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley

ADMISSION: $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Advance tickets at Mother Truckers, BriarPatch, Yabobo and Love Shack Records.

INFORMATION: 274-8384 or visit the Web at http://www.hautetrash.org

RECOMMENDED FOR: Mature audiences

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