Nov 302011
Authors: Courtney Riley

Balloons and window screens aren’t the typical materials used for constructing a dress.

But after her parents replaced their window screens this past summer, senior apparel production major Michelle Lehman decided to use this material to create a dress that will be featured in CSU’s recycled fashion show tonight.

“I’ve always wanted to do this fashion show, and I’ve been working on it since the start of school, basically,” she said.

CSU’s student chapter of Fashion Group International (FGI) is putting on “Cirque de Couture: The Greenest Show on Earth,” a circus-themed fashion show consisting of garments made from recycled items, tonight at 7 p.m. at the Sunset Event Center. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets cost $8 for students and $10 for general admission.

Kealy Bowers, a senior apparel merchandising major and the president of CSU’s chapter of FGI, said there are a total of 53 garments featured in the show from about 50 different designers that are mainly apparel merchandising and design majors.

There are three categories represented: a segment of garments that follows a circus theme; a general submission category of designs in which 75 percent of the outfits are made of recyclable items; and a dress for less category, including outfits pieced together from clothes at thrift stores amounting to under $30, which is the only category featuring one men’s clothing design.

“It’s a really entertaining event,” said Stacy Cowan, an officer of FGI. “The audience always really appreciates the presentation of creative designs.”

The idea of knitting balloons has always been one that has intrigued Lehman, which is where her inspiration for her dress design, falling under the circus-themed category, came from.

“I’ve always kind of wanted to knit balloons for some reason, and when I found out the theme was Cirque de Couture, I just got so excited, so my inspiration kind of expanded off the whole kitted balloons idea,” she said. “The colors look like clowns kind of.”

Half of the bodice of Lehman’s dress is made of knitted balloons, and the other half is constructed from window screen, which was derived from the iconic Batman villain Two Face.

“I wanted it to be pretty on one side and crazy on the other,” she said.

The skirt of the dress, made of window screens, is a little below the knee with a long train in the back.

“I made little rosette flowers out of the screes and sewed them together, there are probably hundreds of little flowers (that make up the skirt),” she said.

The top of the dress is strapless, and the model of Lehman’s dress will wear an unattached collar made of window screen around her neck.

In addition to balloons and window screens, Bowers said other designers have created their designs using recycled bottle caps, melted garbage bags, paper mache, film from a VHS tape, cardboard and dyed dryer sheets.

The set for the show will include cardboard figurines of elephants, a large circus tent and hoola hoops hanging from the ceiling. Free cotton candy will also be handed out to create a true circus-esque experience.

“We wanted to make it elaborate,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun choosing the theme and bringing apparel and merchandising students together.”

For Lehman, this is the first fashion show she has featured a design in.

“I’m really excited and nervous,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of the designs, and everyone did such a good job.”

Entertainment Editor Courtney Riley can be reached at

What: Recycled Fashion Show: Cirque de Couture: The Greenest Show on Earth

Where: Sunset Event Center: 242 Linden Street

When: Doors open at 6:30 p.m. tonight and the show starts at 7 p.m.

Cost: Students $8, general admission $10

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