WHAT: Runaway Runway
WHEN: Saturday, April 2
WHERE: Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St.
In fashion, the expression “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” usually refers to secondhand clothing. But in the case of Columbia Design League’s annual “Runaway Runway” show, one man’s trash could literally become a showstopper. The design competition and recycle fashion show has showcased looks made from bubble wrap, fishing jigs, old pool covers, film canisters, 35mm slides, bicycle tire tubes and parachutes – and that’s just scratching the surface of materials used.
“As soon as the show ends, there are people who are thinking about what they’re going to create for the next show,” said Julie Turner, communications chair. “There are some people who have literally been working on this since the event ended last year.”
Turner began working with the Design League four years ago after being blown away by the runway presentation. This will be the third show that she’s helped behind the scenes, and as she can tell you, there is no shortage of talent.
“A lot of times, we’ll have someone who’s creating multiple unique designs from multiple unique materials, so the volume of work they’re doing for the show is impressive,” she said. “The call for entries officially opens mid-January. The idea may swim around in their head for a while; then they start to think about what materials they’re going to use, and then eventually, they just start constructing it.”
The show is the Design League’s biggest fundraiser. As an affiliate group of the Columbia Museum of Art, proceeds help pay for educational programming the museum offer throughout the year.
“Design is part of our lives every day, so we try to bring in different and broad perspectives that illustrate that,” said Turner.
The top design wins the coveted Bruce Baer award, a trophy designed by Christian Thee, the Broadway illusion designer who lives in Columbia and was involved with the Design League for many years.
“He took some old car parts, an old screwdriver and some pliers and created the original award, and that’s what’s given out every year. It’s beautiful,” said Turner.
Other coveted awards are the Prêt-a-Porter award, which goes to the design that’s most “ready to wear”; the Funky Junk award, which goes to the designer who uses materials most creatively; and the Rockin’ the Runway award, which goes to the model who struts their scraps the best.
“Last year, our judges created the Rising Star award,” said Turner. “That goes to a model under the age of 18.”
A sneak peek of a few designs can be seen on the organization’s Facebook page, but you really want to see these looks in person.
“We have a group called ‘The Real Housewives of Crystal Pines,’ and it looks like they’re using mulch bags,” said Turner. “Nancy Marine, another longtime designer, is an arts teacher in an elementary school, and she’s using crayons, among other things, as part of her entry this year.”
THE VIBE: Be prepared to experience a runway show that runs the gamut from ready-to-wear to avant-garde.
“It’s absolutely fascinating what these designers come up with,” said Turner. “You will see some things that are cumbersome for the model and then others that you can’t tell it didn’t come off the rack.”
THE VERDICT: It’s like being in the audience during “Project Runway’s” anticipated “unconventional” challenge.
Runaway Runway is a show for anyone interested in creativity, and that’s part of its beauty. So expect the unexpected. And expect to be inspired.
Just don’t try this at home. Then again, if you do, we may just see your entry on next year’s runway.
COST: Tickets are available online in two levels. Runway seats, $50, include a runway-level seat and two drink tickets. General admission tickets, $15, offer no reserved seating.