Funky glamour hits fashion runway

Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2001

Glass, Kevlar and rubber meet silk, satin and sequins in the hands of Southeast Alaskan fashion designers.

Dozens of original fashions designed by Southeast artists will be featured in "Going To Extremes," a show of wearable art Saturday night. Artists from Ketchikan to Haines will converge on the Elk's Club Ballroom, joining assorted models, tailors, seamstresses and partygoers at the event, a benefit for the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council's scholarship fund.

Sarah Lawson from Ketchikan will be modeling her creation, "Overboard."

"It's made from wicker, sequins, velvet and an inflatable wading pool," said Sybil Davis of the arts council. "It's a glamorous outfit."

Davis said she was inspired to produce the wearable arts extravaganza because of the success of the event in Ketchikan. Alaska's First City has held the annual funky fashion show for 15 years. Earlier this month Davis flew down for the event, and convinced four Ketchikan designers to come to Juneau with their creations.

"It was completely cool," she said. "It was so much fun."

Christa Henderson of Ketchikan is a friend of Lawson and works with her at the Ketchikan Arts Council. She's coming to Juneau with Lawson for the show, and said the designer sewed the outfit herself.

"She stands 6 feet tall, and the basket (a hat-like accessory) is another 4 feet, so she stands 10 feet tall," Henderson said. "It's quite a contraption. It's very elegant looking, actually."

More than 60 creations will be modeled in the show Saturday night. Some are accessories and models will probably make 35 trips down the ballroom runway. A dance will follow the show, and models and artists will stay to give folks a closer look at the wearable art.

Rebecca Heaton's "Glass Vest" may likely merit a close look. The Haines weaver created the vest using 800,646 glass beads. It's not a beaded fabric vest, she said, it's actually made of glass.

"The glass is the fabric," Heaton said. "The weaving created the fabric. It's just the thread and the beads, and a little copper. The warp (vertical) thread is Kevlar. It's three and half pounds. That's a lot of weight on the threads, so I used Kevlar 'cause it's stronger. The weft (horizontal) threads are polyester, 'cause polyester is forever."

Heaton is a conservator at the library in Haines, and will be coming down for the show.

John Leo is one of the Juneau artists inspired to create wearable art. His piece is called "I'm every woman you could find in a magazine."

"I love to make collages," Leo said. "I thought of making a dress, a collage dress, then the idea went to taking the very different ways women are portrayed in magazines."

Leo said the dress is not a political statement. It's representational, and includes all kinds of women in different activities and emotions.

Leo created a "fabric" using cereal boxes and then glued the pictures to the pasteboard.

"The dress is made of cereal boxes," he said. "Emily Windover will model."

Other outfits will include an elegant cream-colored evening gown covered by a swarm of rubber cockroaches, a giant butterfly costume, a hand-painted silk cloak and a dress made entirely of fishing and boating paraphernalia. Some of the garments are original designs that would not be out of place as everyday streetwear.

Tickets to Going to Extremes: Wearable art fashion show and dance are $20, $10 for students and $50 for a family. Beer and wine will be served, so minors must be accompanied by a guardian.

Riley Woodford can be reached at

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