FIU students show off wearable, sustainable fashions

Katherina Del Rio/Contributing Writer

Students, staff and community members filled the courtyard of the Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Thursday, March 31 to see 38 original fashion designs created by FIU students from recycled materials.

“I worked in the woodshop and helped make a dress out of wood palettes,” said Cesasr Charria, a junior majoring in architecture.

The Eco Couture Fashion Show was started by Amira Ajlouni while she was working on her thesis as an architecture grad student. The goal was to promote sustainability through fashion. Currently, she is the show’s artistic director and a project manager at Development Service Solutions, LLC.

“We want everyone to see trash in action,” Ajlouni said, during her opening speech.

Other speeches were made by Jennifer Luis, Ajlouni’s event partner, and Jason Chandler, the chair of FIU’s School of Architecture.

Chandler offered a moment of silence before the fashion show began to honor architect Zaha Hadid, who died Thursday.

Outfits were made using items that typically end up in landfills, including: plastic forks, garbage bags, water bottles and pieces of old tires.

Pedro Munarriz and Christopher Gongora, architecture grad students, worked together to create a two-piece outfit made of scraps of plywood and used sandpaper.

For Munarriz it was important that their piece have a narrative and while the finished product wasn’t what was originally intended, he describes the outfit as post-apocalyptic and aggressive.

“We originally imagined something more elegant but it’s hard to make sandpaper look sexy,” Gongora said.

The fashion show competition was open to the entire FIU student body, the only requirements being that the dress be made of completely recycled and reusable material and that the outfit could be worn more than once.

Jose Caba, a junior economics major, saw the show for the first time last year and knew he wanted to design an outfit this year. He created a dress fit for a queen using newspaper, chains, tape, garbage bags, hooks and velcro.

“I did a little everyday so I didn’t slack and wait till last minute,” said Caba, who worked on the elaborate project for two weeks.

TV host and interior designer Martin Amado served as the show’s master of ceremonies and mentioned the materials each dress was made from as its model walked down the runway.

The outfits were judged by a panel of eight judges, including journalist Marian de la Fuente, director of Arquitectonica GEO Margarita Blanco, Constance Silver, a psychoanalyst and artist, TV personality Candela Ferro, designer Rene Ruiz, founder and chief designer of Apparel design house Jessica Anderson and the City of Miami’s environmental programs manager, Barbara Hulanicki.

There were a total of four money prizes ranging for $250 – $1,000. The top three prizes were decided by judges and the last prize was determined by the audience through anonymous voting ballots.

Judges deliberated on the 38 outfits for more than 25 minutes. Third place winner, Cindy Rodriguez, created her dress out of eggshells. Susan Alonso took home the second-place prize of $500 as well as the People’s Choice Award of $250 with her outfit made from plastic water bottles and white plastic grocery bags.

The first place prize of $1,000 went to a team consisting of Laura De La Vega, Sharit Ben Asher and Andrea Canvaes who collaborated to create a two-piece outfit from plastic bags and 3D printed material.

All proceeds made during the fashion show will go toward scholarships for students in the FIU Department of Architecture.  Designs featured in the Eco Couture Recycling Fashion Show will be on display on the second floor of the terrace dining area at Dadeland throughout the month of April.

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