The reason for the event was twofold: promote recycling and repurposing garments, and raise funds for the services Bridge House/Grace House’s treatment programs. The evening’s festivities included a silent auction, food from over 20 New Orleans restaurants and a cash bar. The New Orleans Pussyfooters performed and Andrew Ward and Lauren “Fleurty Girl” LeBlanc served as emcees.
Bridge House/Grace House, founded in 1957 and 1985, respectively, assists men and women lead sober, productive lives through gender specific drug and alcohol treatment. The organizations treat over 650 individuals annually.
Designers were challenged to create a runway ready outfit utilizing nothing but thrift store finds. The 44 participants were each given a gift card to Bridge House Thrift Store so they could shop for items to incorporate into their look. Designers were allowed to purchase new finishes, such as snaps and zippers, to complete their creation.
Why buy secondhand when clothing prices are cheaper than ever? What’s good for our pocketbooks is, unfortunately, devastating for the environment. According to the 2015 documentary TheTrue Cost, the average American throws away 82 pounds of textiles per year, amounting to a staggering 11 million tons of waste.
Abita Springs resident Tieler James was bestowed the honor of Special Designer for the evening. In 2014, at just 14 years old, James competed– and won– an episode of “Project Runway: Threads” and went on to compete on this season’s “Project Runway Junior.” He made it far in the competition, but was voted out in the finale, Part I, which aired Feb. 16.
James opted to buy work jeans with his thrift store gift card.
“People love to get rid of jeans,” he said. And besides, “Who doesn’t love denim?”
Contestants were given a month to complete the project, but James finished his in a week.
“One giant denim look,” which James described as an oversized 1980s/Japanese inspired umbrella skirt with pleating details.
James was in his element with recycled materials.
“Fabric is expensive…I’m always looking for more inexpensive materials (anyway),” he said. His work was auctioned off for $150.
James is currently a junior at the New Orleans Center of Creative Arts, where he studies theater design. At just 17 year old, James has racked up accolades including Gambit Weekly’s “40 under 40” in 2016 and was Emerging Designer of the Year in 2015 at South Walton Fashion Week.