DUNEDIN — Cotton balls, aluminum strips and mops may never seem just utilitarian objects after you see the Dunedin Fine Art Center's Wearable Art show, where artists design, fuse, twist, shape and sew ordinary items into fashions with a wow factor fit for a Paris runway.
The producer of this year's Wearable Art 9, Dawn Scott, was glad she attended last year's show as a guest. She will soon celebrate her first year of working at DFAC and her first foray into producing the annual show that features fashions created by artists and designers using common or found objects.
"It helps to be organized," said Scott. "And this year I learned what not to do and what to do to make the production better. Everyone plays a huge role, from marketing to volunteers, staff, the sponsors, who are such an important part of the program, and the artists who come up with amazing works of wearable art."
One of those artists, newcomer Lina Teixeira, talked about how her creative process of turning everyday items into wearable art begins.
"I literally lie in bed at night and let my mind go," said Teixeira. "A trip to the flea market is like heaven for me. I'm always triggered by something. One fashion was inspired by a model who always looks regal and she is Hispanic. I wanted to do something for her."
The trigger? A grocery store doily meant to be slipped under a cake, but Teixeira realized the doily looked like Spanish lace.
Teixeira attended Wearable Art 8. She says she stood for the show in uncomfortable 6-inch heels, but didn't even realize how many blisters she had.
"That's how impressed and in awe I was with that show and I told my husband I have to be in the next one," said Teixeira.
Returning artist Rogerio Martins is a nationally recognized Brazilian fashion designer and a mixed-media artist who will present seven new pieces. For his Beauty Without Name collection, Martins collaborated with artists who crochet. He worked his magic, spinning colorful crocheted swatches into a chic collection of feminine wearable art.
And that's not all Martins has to offer this year.
"For this collection I'm going to have a special ethereal opening production called Seven Prayers," said Martins. "I believe life goes in a cycle of seven years — that every seven years there is a change in people's lives."
His production will feature six male models and one female, the queen. She will, of course, be dressed in a regal Martins fashion. He says the opening pays homage to seven men, some of whom have passed on, but all men whose lives have touched Martins through the years.
Martins' works will make up the grand finale.
After the runway show ends, attendees can enter the Entel Family Gallery to view a feature installation by Kate Cummins.
Also new this year is a glimpse for the public of two designers' creations that will not be included in the Wearable Art 9 show. A creation by Teixeira and one by Rogerio are on display at Westfield Countryside mall in Clearwater.
Since the inaugural show, Gregory Brady's Salon GW has created a hair and makeup mystique for models to complement each design. This year, like last, teams from Salon GW and LaPosh Salon will work together. The talented teams will produce fierce and edgy to regal and ethereal looks using tools from hair gel to body paint to create avant garde styles for the runway.
From the first year, when the show was held inside DCAF, it has sold out. Back then there were 400 tickets. According to Ken Hannon, DFAC executive director, this will be the fourth year the show has been held in the Dunedin Community Center. Since moving, Wearable Art has sold all 900 tickets.
"Wearable Art 9 is one of the DFAC's fundraisers and sponsors have been an important part of the event from the start," said Hannon. "Every student who walks through these doors is subsidized and every class is offered at below what it costs us to put it on. Our ongoing goal is to keep all the programs we offer. Wearable Art has been an exciting way to do that from the start. People come because this is the stuff you can't see anywhere else."
Scott adds it's the caliber of artists that makes Wearable Art unique. "Wearable Art reaches a different demographic," said Scott. "We have the preparty with a DJ, the runway show with amazing wearable art and then the after-party with live music. People who might not come to the arts center all year come for Wearable Art."