Cosmo Couture 2015

Historical eras inspired VOA’s Most Creative award-winner

Last week, our team (VOA’s Emily Angell, Leigh Fayfich, Lauren Hunt, Stephanie Orlich and Stephanie Tyrpak along with reclaimed wood specialists Wellborn and Wright through AJ Minite with our sponsor ALKS) competed in DC’s design and architecture Project Runway-style event Cosmo Couture. This year’s theme was the Smithsonian American Art Museum in our nation’s capital, home to artwork by more than 7,000 American artists and craftspeople. In our design, we embrace the contrasts and distinctions in American art through three art eras shown in the permanent exhibits: the Gilded Age, New Deal, and the Industrial Revolution.

Our garment starts with a golden, exaggerated collar that stands for Gilded Age ideas. Mark Twain coined the term in 1873 as a description of an era in which social problems were masked with a thin layer of gold. The idea of reclaimed wood painted and camouflaged as gold-plating drives this idea home. Within the frame we have modeled our bodice after New Deal art that is representative of American greatness in a period of great struggle. Scraps of salvaged wood are tinted or left bare, and applied to the top to make for a natural, colorful, yet raw composition. The bodice deconstructs into a soft skirt made of factory processing materials. The skirt references the Landscape Movement of the Industrial Revolution, in which artists painted soft, serene views that inspired nostalgia for a simpler time as a diversion from rampant social disparities. We strived to make a connection between Wellborn + Wright, a “home-grown” reclaimed wood fabricator in Virginia, and the craftsmen that are represented in the American Art Museum. Our design utilizes materials such as plastic sheeting, wood floorboards, cardboard packaging and metal scraps.

While VOA DC didn’t come away with the social media numbers to win the People’s Choice award, I’m proud to say that we made a little history ourselves and walked away with the Cosmo Couture Most Creative Award for our design.

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