‘Trashy’ show has anti-waste message
Susan Lamela had a vision.
And much as any artist would do, she sought the vehicle that would enable her vision to take flight. Little did she know that this vehicle would be the same one she’d just thrown away.
Her idea was simple: to make others more aware of their wasteful ways and point out what she thought was a wasteful American culture. Lamela designed the Haute Trash Fashion Show to convey her serious message in a not-so-serious environment.
There was only one catch – no fabric allowed.
Outfits were created from garbage bags and soda cans, bubble wrap and empty pizza boxes, all of it scavenged from roadside debris, personal trash supplies and dumpsters.
During the late ’80s and early ’90s, Lamela and her fellow designers and models strutted up and down the runways of Northern California venues – including Bridgeport and the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City – as well as a few in Oregon, spreading their message of conservation. The show sold out at every venue, and the designers eventually needed a break.
While they took time off, the fashion show faced its biggest hurdle: It went into limbo when Lamela died of cancer in June 2000.
Kathi Griffis, who helped produce the show, has decided it’s now time to revive it, with two performances at Center for the Arts this weekend.
More than a decade has gone by since the show was last seen, but the message is the same, according to Griffis.
“We’re still trying to get people to just look at what they throw away,” she said.
Seven of the show’s original designers and three new designers are in the revised show.
Who will model the 60 “trashy” outfits?
“We have a really wide variety of models this year. Some of them are in their late teens or early 20s, and others are in their late 50s,” Griffis said.
According to Hank Meals, Lamela’s widower, some of the children who modeled when the show got started are now designers. Griffis will be accompanied by local designers Mary X, Mila Johansen, Raven Joy Phillips, Connie Coale, Sande Scott and Belle Star, along with Robin Worley of Seattle and Eve Elder of Sonora.
John Deaderick will be master of ceremonies, and Blue Shadows will perform music.
This weekend’s Trash Fashion crew will work for both awareness and in remembrance, Griffis said: for awareness of the excessive habits of our society, and in remembrance of Lamela.
“She would have thought it was great – she loved it so much,” Meals said. “The show’s wonderful because it’s intelligent and over the top at the same time.”
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