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Runway comes alive with bodies as easels


Saturday night, models will flaunt fashions made from metal, latex, plastic and organic materials.

Just hope the balloons don't pop, the feathers stay together and that hungry dogs don't spot the outfit made from meat.

It's the Dunedin Fine Art Center's Wearable Art 4, where designers trade sewing machines for air pumps, glue guns or kitchen cleavers.

"There is always an element of surprise in our shows," said Kaya Parwanicka, the center's special events coordinator. "Each year, we try to top the last one with more interesting designs."

This year, nine student and professional designers, selected from an ever-growing pool of applicants, will show about 60 outfits under spotlights. Those lights will be brighter this year and the catwalk a bit wider, Parwanicka said.

One of the newcomers is Mark Byrne, otherwise known as the Balloon Guy. The Clearwater resident is a professional entertainer who recently returned from China, where he debuted his line of balloon garments as part of an international clown fest.

Saturday night, he'll present "Pop Art," a collection of air-wear that includes a ball gown, bikini and superhero outfit that he plans to model.

So how do the models slide into their outfits without bursting them?

"Very carefully," he said.

Courtney Davis and Jenny Stachon are students at Tampa's International Academy of Design and Technology. Inspired by their love of sugary confections, they plan a fantasy birthday party with a cotton candy outfit, a cupcake and a mad baker on sugar overload.

"She's had too much of a good thing," said Stachon, 21, referring to the baker.

Frank Strunk III, 44, of St. Petersburg will be back with his always chic and mischievous industrial art designs. This year, he'll explore the use of copper and brass in his "Fire Woman" design, featuring a voluptuous glass breastplate with internal components that light up and spin.

Strunk, who is collaborating with belly dancer/choreographer Johanna Krynytzky and glass artist Adam Driver, will include a new line of "very sexy and tasteful" intimate apparel worn over black unitards, he said.

General admission tickets for the fashion show are $15, and were still available at press time. But procrastinators take note: the wildly popular show, now in its fourth year, is always a sellout.

Proceeds from the event benefit the center's educational programming. Last year, the show raised about $10,000, Parwanicka said.

A preparty begins at 7:30 p.m. with drinks and a disc jockey. The runway show follows at 9 p.m., then the party continues with the music of a Bradenton band, Have Gun, Will Travel.

Art lovers can browse amid a gallery based version of wearable art by a variety of artists or bid on some 20-plus prints inspired by the classic tale, Alice in Wonderland.

Their creator, Safety Harbor artist Vivian Ruegger, donated the collection for the silent auction.

Dunedin City Commissioner Deborah Kynes, who calls herself a "closet designer," has created decorative headwear and shoes as part of a "feathered friends" collection by designers Kina Halle and Roz Doherty.

Halle, owner of Kina Kouture, said they've used tulle, organza, rhinestones and "pounds and pounds of feathers" to create some "really gorgeous" wearable art.

Rogerio Martins, 36, another student at the Tampa academy, returns this year with a re-nourished sense of fashion that includes fish scales, bones and seeds, as well as recycled plastic bottles and bottle caps.

Martins said he planned to create a dress made from cuts of meat and ham.

"I've already dried some ham and it turned out very cute," he said.

So is he a vegan?

"No," he said, "but I probably will be after this show."

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at

>>if you go

Wearable Art 4

When: Saturday. Preparty begins at 7:30 p.m.; fashion show at 9; post-party lasts until midnight.

Where: Dunedin Fine Art Center, 1143 Michigan Blvd.

Tickets: $15 general admission — this is standing-room only. Reserved seating is sold out.

For information: (727) 298-3322 or visit

Runway comes alive with bodies as easels 08/14/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 11:30am]
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