In the minutes before the models took to the runway, backstage at the first ever Fashion Fusion – Deconstructed show was bustling, as everyone put the finishing touches on their hair and makeup and tried to steel their nerves.
The ballroom at Fort Lewis College was transformed for the evening, with a runway and DJ booth. The Stillwater Foundation Jazz Quartet provided the pre-show entertainment, while dancers with Dance in the Rockies kept the audience entertained during judging.
The show was a benefit for the Durango Arts Center, and the businesses that participated were tasked with designing outfits using repurposed items that best illustrated their industry.
Ellie Boroff, modeling for Durango Sports Club, was wearing an outfit that consisted of a weight vest made of a series of 2½-pound weights (43½ pounds total) and exercise bands. Racquet balls attached to a treadmill-belt, wood paneling from the club’s floor and electric tape combine to make up her skirt, and her armbands were made out of a pool cover.
Adrian Wegeng-Frank, also representing Durango Sports Club, was similarly decked out in a vest made up of braided exercise bands, a skirt made of a pool cover embellished with mirrors.
“We created a committee and came up with ideas like gladiators, Transformers and stuff like that, and we landed on superheroes,” Wegeng-Frank said. “So I’m a superhero and she (Boroff) is a villain.”
It took their committee, made up of Wegeng-Frank, Boroff, Will Thomas, Tahenia Telliano and Todd Rainingbird about a month and a half to make the ensembles.
Erin O’Connor, decked out in paper feathers and black sequins, represented the DAC.
“I wasn’t nervous until I got here today,” she said. “I was like, ‘People fall on these things (runways) sometimes. Other than that, I’m fine.”
While she waited, her outfit’s designer and also a model for the Durango Arts Center, Doug Gonzales, was putting the finishing touches on his paper-feathered jeans and shirt.
“I was thinking about how the DAC helps art take flight, so I thought of feathers,” he said, adding that getting everything ready for the show was no easy, 10-minute task. “It took at least a full 24 hours.”
As well as a benefit for the DAC, the event also brought out a guy looking for a home.
Marisa Pacheco and Katelynn McCullough, who were modeling for the La Plata County Humane Society, were accompanied by Troy, a dog that is a distemper survivor and who is up for adoption. Troy, too, was modeling for the occasion: He was resplendent in a sassy orange vest that read “I’m a survivor” on the side. The women worked the animal theme, as well, in dresses made of recycled dog and cat food bags.
In the corner of the dressing area stood a tall, gray woman wearing a huge plastic skirt and flowered hat.
Advance Concrete Solutions’ model, Justa Whitt, was having the last touches of concrete-colored body paint applied to her by Susan Livingston. The two women own the body-painting business Magic Brush.
Planning for the show took about a month, Whitt said. Her outfit, designed by her, Livingston and Karen Evans, was made of cement tools, nails, tape, chicken wire and head-to-toe cement-colored body paint.
And then the show began.
To blazing lights and pounding music, the models took to the stage one by one. If they were as nervous as they said they felt backstage, that was gone by the time it was their turn. As they made their way down to the end of the runway, judges Lisa Laughlin, Kirk Komick and J.M. Jones assessed each with a critical eye.
After the show, audience members got to select their favorite outfit for the People’s Choice Award by going online with their smartphones and casting their vote.
In the end, The Durango Herald won Best Use of Raw Materials for a dress and headpiece made of magazine pages, orange plastic newspaper bags, metal printing plates, phone book pages, irrigation tubing, wire and bundle straps. The Herald’s entry was designed by Olivia J. Dombach and modeled by Ayla Quinn.
Taking home two of the three prizes – Most Wearable Art and the coveted People’s Choice Award – was Occasions Bridal/Formal/Tuxedo, with a gown made out of dress bags, shirt bags, tag fasteners, cable ties and thread. The winning outfit was modeled by Sara Knight and the design was inspired by Edith Willey.