Environmental Fashion: ‘Trashy’ Designs Displayed in Glenview this Friday

Ankle-deep in plastic bags, Glenview artist Mary Anne Enriquez slaved over a hot iron for most of August and September, fusing bags into a piece of fabric as big as a buffalo skin. Once she completed the skin, she sewed the fabric into a Native American-inspired coat, and created boot spats, a hair clip and pin to match


“It was like sewing animal skins.” Enriquez says.

The irony, she added, is that “these were free plastic bags, but because I’d invested so many hours into them, they became just as precious as working with high-priced fur.”

Enriquez, along with more than 60 designers, will get a chance to show off their garbage couture Nov. 13 at the Trashy Fashion Show, an event sponsored by the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC), a non-profit, intergovernmental agency that provides waste-management services and education programs to surrounding areas on the North Shore and Northwest suburbs. Being held in recognition of America Recycles Day, the free event will be held at the Park Center in Glenview.

trash2Mary Allen, recycling and education director at SWANCC, spearheads the show, and is a runway veteran, evidenced by the metallic gown made from 7,000 Coca-Cola can tabs glittering in her Glenview office. Allen says this is the first year it’s opened the event to the community; the past 2 shows were done working with middle and high schools.

“We wanted to raise the bar,” Allen says, noting that the criteria this year were strict: 90 percent of each outfit and accessory had to be from found items or trash-bound materials. To help interested participants, SWANCC hosted a series of clinics last May to teach techniques, such as paper-bead making and glue gun tips.

Allen says this year’s show also drew from a widespread group demographically: from teens at Niles North High School and Evanston Library to local artists and a member of the Wilmette Gardening Club.

Morton Public Library presented one of the most audacious creations: a flapper dress made of more than 5,000 paper beads hand-rolled by about 40 staff and patrons.

Karina Guico, library programming assistant, says she’s wanted to make a flapper dress for a long time, “and all my friends thought I was crazy.”

trash3When Guico learned of the Trashy show she set her plan in motion. And while her peers “were all a little iffy about rolling thousands of beads, they pulled through,” Guico jokes. Ultimately, it was using up “piles of paper that we didn’t know what to do with,” she adds, and making it into something “fabulous.”

FYIs about the Trashy Fashion Show:

  • Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. at the Park Center, 2400 Chestnut Ave., Glenview
    It’s free, but reservations are required: E-mail info@swancc.or, or call SWANCC at 847-724-9205, extension 201


Mary Anne Enriquez, who goes by the name Urban Woodswalker, specializes in creating artwork from garbage. Her Flickr site shows in detail how she created her outfit for the Trashy Fashion Show

How to become a Dumpster Diva:

SWANCC recommends the following sites for inspiration.

  • Recycle Runway by artist Nancy Judd
  • Recycle Now Week by designer Gary Harvey
  • Naturevsfuture by designer Nina Valenti
  • Junk to Funk, Portland, OR

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