Recycled fashion, two ways

Why don Dolce & Gabbana when you could wear the YDN?

Fashion and recycling converged at events put on by the Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership this past weekend. On Friday, STEP co-hosted éphémère, Bonaire Le’s ’09 fashion show, in which students wearing 10 pieces made of recycled dorm items strutted down a makeshift runway. And on Sunday, the Eli Exchange Extravaganza, Yale’s version of a rummage sale, was held on Old Campus.

Caroline Smith ’09 (left), Eva Wilson ’10 (center) and Sara Fracapane ’09 (right) model dresses made from various paper products. The dresses were designed by Bonaire Le ’09 and featured in his recycled clothing fashion show, ephémère, Friday night.
Caroline Smith ’09 (left), Eva Wilson ’10 (center) and Sara Fracapane ’09 (right) model dresses made from various paper products. The dresses were designed by Bonaire Le ’09 and featured in his recycled clothing fashion show, ephémère, Friday night.

“I didn’t know everyone would be so dressed up,” Caroline Dewing ’12 said of the crowd at the fashion show, which included women in skirts and men in button-downs.

Runway décor included an onstage curtain made from old copies of the News, an Ezra Stiles “one love, one moose” poster and a catwalk made of Friday’s newspaper strewn across the dining hall floor — all to the tune of blaring pop music.

“Yeah, walking across that was a little tough,” said Jordan Zimmerman ’12, who modeled a white trench coat and heels she called “ridiculously high!”

Le himself introduced the show, discussing his designs — elaborate gowns with pleats or trains that made use of materials like problem sets, course packets and senior essays. Le said he was inspired by items found in the average college student’s dorm.

The show began with a crescendo of pop-techno music and cheers from all non-90-degree corners of the room. Sara Fracapane ’09, draped in newspaper, appeared on the catwalk, taking one rustling step for models — and one recycling leap for mankind.

Fracapane’s image also appeared in a PowerPoint above the stage that featured three of the 29 models posing at various locations around campus, wearing their eco-friendly outfits.

About 20 minutes later, the event’s organizers hosted a reception, during which the models continued sporting their paper gowns.

“It’s so comfortable and loose!” Chenxi Nie ’11 said of her J.Crew shopping bag dress.

“If we can have naked parties at Yale, we can have paper dress parties,” she added.

Fracapane concurred, smiling, “I want to wear it to the Commencement Ball.”

STEP’s Sunday Eli Exchange Extravaganza offered respite in other kinds of fashionable recycled garments, from Harvard-Yale T-shirts to faded jeans to a fuzzy purple boa.

Among the leftover detergent and lint in every residential college’s laundry room are Eli Exchange bins, in which Yale students dump clothes they no longer want, Sophie Wolfram ’10, a co-director of STEP, said. Once a semester, she said, STEP coordinators collect the clothes and display them on Old Campus for students to browse and take for free.

“It’s not a big problem,” Wolfram said, “but at least this way we can reuse the clothes we have here, instead of depleting the stuff at places like the Salvation Army.”

About 100 students and New Haven resident found items to their liking at the event, she said. Among the garments STEP gave away was a men’s suit, a large pile of jeans and a few pairs of leather boots.

“You can get a lot here,” said Minnie Baig ’12, a STEP coordinator who was picking up a gray-and-black-striped T-shirt. “Some of the stuff is really cute, and you’re recycling when you wear it!”

The Extravaganza has been held every semester for the past three years — about as long as STEP has been around as an organization, Wolfram said.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations, Bo! The show was phenomenal!

  • STEP/Yale Alum.

    The sustainable fashion show was my host hated component of the STEP program; sustainability is first and foremost about reducing whereas fashion is about intentional, conspicuous consumption. Innovation is great in many fields, but clothing doesn't really need to change all that much. Buying durable, well-made clothing that fits well and is versatile is the "most sustainable" option. A dress of the latest fashion can be organic and recycled, but it still represents and usually is an additional expenditure of material and labor. I understand that STEP needs to vibe with the Yale crowd, but please stop sacrificing environmental ideals simply to gather larger crowds, especially since these crowds hardly get the point.