Devan Groth’s garmet bag is two black plastic trash bags, which she pulls off to reveal a dress made out of wrapping paper, bows and ribbons, all held together with duct tape.
She pulls out an addition, a red cellophane bow, and her co-designer, Jessica Jones, affixes it with duct tape. Six or seven hours and a lot of creativity went into making the dress look as nice and crisp as possible, Groth says.
Jones and Groth, both juniors at Juneau-Douglas High School, are participating in the fourth annual “Trash ‘N’ Fashion” show, in which all outfits must be made entirely of recycled materials.
The show is a fundraiser for the student publication, The Ego (and its upside down alternative half, the Alterego), which is produced by Ali McKenna’s “Writing for Publication” class. The class doesn’t receive any funding from the school district to pay for its printing costs, so ticket sales from “Trash ‘N’ Fashion” provide most of the money to buy paper and ink. They also solicit advertisements, McKenna said, and some of her “kind colleagues take out ‘subscriptions’” (the publication is free).
In a fundraising brainstorm a few years ago, students joked that McKenna, known for her “lack of fashion,” should sponsor a fashion show.
“We extended this to imagine what type of fashion show I would support and decided that clothing made of trash would be appropriate since I support global awareness and can’t dress myself appropriately,” McKenna said.
About a dozen teams of student designers will participate in this year’s show, and Stephanie Logan and Paul Wisner will emcee. Many of the designs are one-use only, since they often have to be taped on the models, so the results are usually a surprise, McKenna said.
Last year two of the design teams entered their creations in Juneau’s Wearable Art show as well, which is something the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council encourages, McKenna said.
The Ego is not a traditional school paper covering sporting events and prom dresses, McKenna said. The January issue tackles tough topics, including bullying, teen suicide, and a first-person account of living with bipolar disorder. On the lighter end of the spectrum, there are articles about the Eaglecrest lift partner that no one wants, and tongue-in-cheek advice on forging parental excuse notes.
“It encourages them to explore current events in a meaningful manner,” she said. “The writing is for a real audience and for a real purpose beyond a grade, collaboration is fostered, social barriers that sometimes exist in classes are blurred, and the students have a healthy way to vent frustration with ‘The Man’ or ‘The System’ through satire. I think any teacher or parent should read this magazine to get inside teenagers’ heads.”
McKenna said she tries to run the class like a real magazine, and the students decide on their topics and the magazine’s layout.
“We definitely get the word out about things and don’t sugarcoat it,” Groth said.
She has “enjoyed every second” of the class and is participating in the fashion show to support a publication she loves being a part of. She described the class as a mix of social science and writing, a combination she calls “a clash of awesome.”
The same might be said for the fashion show that supports it.
The Trash ‘N’ Fashion Show will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 21 at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium. Admission is $5 with all proceeds going to support The Ego/Alterego magazine.
The audience will vote on Best Design and Best Presentation, and while ballots are being tallied, three groups from the audience will be invited up on stage to try their hands at designing outfits themselves, for a prize.
Katie Spielberger may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.