Upcycled couture

Annual Glam Trash Fashion Show offers a feast for the eyes and food for thought


Just in time to antidote those “where’d my summer go?” blues, the 2017 Glam Trash Fashion Show sashays into Taos Plaza Saturday (Sept. 2) at 4 p.m. The designs on the runway will all be constructed from recycled materials, creatively reimagined into wearable art.

Audiences at previous Glam Trash events have marveled at a dazzling range of fashions, from the fiercely chic to the ineffably intergalactic. Warriors in license-plate armor strut the runway alongside newspaper-girded Roman gladiators. Frito-bag fairies work their wiles on Twister mat-gowned vixens. Discarded gift wrap is transformed into festive cocktail dresses. Sacks of potting soil become mother-daughter gardening ensembles, appropriately accessorized with purses made of watering cans. Window drapes achieve levels of haute couture that would turn Scarlett O’Hara emerald green with envy. Over the years, outfits have been festooned with packing peanuts, playing cards, bubble wrap, shiny CDs, broken Christmas tree ornaments, Polaroids, feathers, yards of duct tape and, of course, actual trash bags. This weekend’s show promises even more eclectic variety.

Jean Nichols was a co-founder (with Melissa Larson and Violette Alba) of the “Arte de Descartes” recycled art show, currently on view at the Stables Gallery. She originally co-founded Glam Trash with artist and educator Nicole Kowalski as a kickoff event for “Arte de Descartes.” Nichols now directs Art for the Heart, a Peñasco nonprofit whose mission is “to foster health through creativity.” Art for the Heart will be providing prize money for the top-scoring designs.

“Nicole and I started the Glam Trash Show in 2001, and it has been steadily growing ever since,” Nichols said. “A project of Peñasco’s Art for the Heart, Glam Trash Fashion was born out of a desire to promote reuse and recycling, combined with the creative innovation and fun of fashion design and costuming. The first year, it was held at the Martínez Hacienda as part of the opening of ‘Arte de Descartes.’ Then both shows moved to the Stables Gallery.”

Glam Trash crowds eventually outgrew the Stables courtyard, and the runway moved to Bent Street, next to Sara Basehart’s Seconds Eco Store. While Glam Trash has taken on its own life independent from “Descartes,” the two events are still kindred spirits.

“We are very supportive of the ‘Arte de Descartes’ show and urge everyone to visit it [the show opened Aug. 26 at the Stables Gallery, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte]. It’s one of Taos’ – and New Mexico’s – best annual art shows,” Nichols said. “Now Glam Trash is on Taos Plaza and is being co-sponsored by the town of Taos, Seconds Eco Store and Art for the Heart. No matter where it goes from here, we agree on one thing: that it stays a free outdoor community event for all ages. That way, it stays fresh, funky and fun. I especially like seeing entries from our younger participants and love it when schools get involved and make it a group project. Sara Basehart joined us as an organizer and major creative force behind the show. This show is a cooperative group effort, although Sara gets the major credit this year for her untiring dedication and enthusiasm.”

“This is my fourth year as an organizer of Glam Trash,” Basehart said. “Thanks to the town of Taos’ support for free public art events, the show has grown into its own on the Taos Plaza. Founders Nicole and Jean will be at the show, with Nicole as our emcee onstage and Jean running the recycled goods booths on the east end of the Plaza. This year is the 15th show in 17 years. As always, we expect it to be a fabulous show. We have a few past winners returning to the stage, as well as a whole new crew of first-timers. To me, Glam Trash always wholeheartedly embraces recycling, fashion and fabulous frivolity. I look forward to the adventure of it every year.”

The PASEO Arts Festival has become a Glam Trash ally and will be exhibiting outfits from the show during PASEO’s upcoming Taos Plaza “Pop! Party” on Sept. 23.

Taos Arts Council is also a supporter of Glam Trash. “They are considering putting a couple of dresses from this year’s show on display during the Taos Fall Arts show,” Basehart said.

Glam Trash 2017 will have approximately 30 models walking the runway and booths selling recycled wares and wearables. “Thanks to the town of Taos, we will have a raised catwalk this year. Another change is that after the grand finale group walk, the models will descend into the audience to mingle until they are called back up for prizes.”

Live music is always an integral part of the show. “Our band this year is The Incident, a group of local musicians organized by drummer Mark ‘Kneel Pert’ Kemper.”

Nichols recalled the many bands that have formed and performed at Glam Trash Fashion Show. “We thank them all for their enthusiasm and music. Out of Nowhere got its start at a Glam Trash show and has now made a name for itself around Taos and beyond. This year, we anticipate more musical magic – besides the raised runway, which will allow for even better audience viewing. We hope to have some chairs available, and people are welcome to bring their own. Come relax and cheer on all our fabulous models and designers.”

“It’s important to remember that the Glam Trash Fashion Show is a free public event,” said Basehart. “None of us gets paid for our organizing efforts. It is done purely out of a love for recycling, a ‘passion for trashion’ and the pure joy of it!”

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