Our Laguna: Artists make their fashion statements

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Green is golden and by any standard the fashion show presented Saturday by the Festival of Arts was a 24-karat winner.

Talented festival exhibitors created nine eco-friendly designs from at least 80% recycled or natural materials, the second year, to an even more enthusiastic audience than in 2009.

The show opened with a design by jewelers Barbara Hendricks and last year's inaugural show winners. They called it Festival Diva, a party dress in keeping with the Pageant of the Master's theme: "Eat, Drink and Be Merry."

"The artists spent hours emptying wine bottle and beer cans for their art," said Arts Commissioner and festival board member Pat Kollenda, who served as commentator for the show.

Materials included packaging from chips and oranges; wine and beer bottles and old tickets from the opening night party.

"Mona Lisa [whose face embellished the tickets] is doing a peek-a-boo somewhere on this ensemble." Kollenda said.

Painter Dagmar Chaplin managed to convert plastic grocery bags, packing material, bubblewrap and corregated cardboard into a costume worthy of a banquet in the court of Henry the VIII.

Decorative elements include flowers made of newspaper advertisements, dried lotus flowers and rosebuds, salvaged jewelry, Christmas trimming and a hand-painted pizza fan.

Sophie Higuchi, daughter of Festival of Arts promotion and publicity director Sharbie Higuchi, was the model.

Painter Brad Elsberry's inspired design drew from nature and Laguna's well-documented history of overcoming adversity.

Elsberry used a thrift store bridesmaid gown altered with cardboard for the base of his "Eucalyptus Phoenix." He covered the base with spirals of bark shed by the large eucalyptus near the entrance of the festival to create a gown that fit as if painted on the model.

Fallen branches, leaves, blossoms and seeds pods trimmed the back of the dress until the model raised her arms and transformed the bustle into wings, a tribute to Laguna's ability to rise like a Phoenix from disaster.

Photographer Rick Graves used recycled tools of his art for "Out Takes."

The body of the dress was created from part of a damaged 121-by-19-inch canvas print originally used for a show at the Dana Point Ocean Institute.

The body inside the dress was Graves' poised 11-year-old daughter, Camryn, who will be starting the 7th grade this fall. She modeled her father's entry like a pro.

"I would get a lock and a key," Kollenda advised.

The image on the canvas was shot at the Monterey Bay Aquarium with a unique camera that exposes an entire roll of film as a single frame.

Embellished with 25 feet of unexposed 35 mm Kodak Duplicating film, the dress was fringed with rolls of Fujichrome Provia film test outtakes.

The hat that accessorized the outfit was made of Styrofoam rings, 220 and 35 mm film, wire and a lazy susan that allowed Camryn to spin the brim. She also wore sunglasses made of 35 mm film and slide mounts copyrighted in 2005.

Jeweler Troels Larsen, who also participated in last's year's show, stayed close to home this year for inspiration. He used stacks of magazines, a few trash bags and fluffed-up toilet paper for a prom dress fit for a teen queen.

Studding the dress straps with Cheerios was a last-minute addition when he saw the cereal spilled on the kitchen counter by his youngest daughter the morning of the show.

The gown was modeled by Larsen's daughter, Anika, who will enter Laguna Beach High School this fall.

In keeping with the pageant theme, wood handcrafter Janet Lewis and mixed media artist David Milton created a 1920s Art Deco design modeled by a first year exhibitor at the festival, Elizabeth McGhee.

"Six hundred and 60 wine bottles sacrificed their corks for the dress," Kollenda said.

The bodice featured picnic ware, plastic bags, bottle caps and recipes from the "Art Lovers Cookbook," which is available at the Festival Gift Shop.

Lewis drilled the corks. Milton painted them. Accessories included a necklace made by McGhee from hand-rolled paper beads and foil from candy kisses.

Mike Tauber created his entry from a second-hand maternity slip from the Assistance League covered in paint chip samples left over from Tauber's Whole Foods mural. The dress was accessorized with an umbrella found on a beach, gloves never claimed from Laguna Presbyterian Church's lost and found, earrings created from a discarded compact disc and a cigarette holder made from a dowel and paper towel cylinder.

The dress was for sale for $299, with the proceeds to benefit needy artists.

White chicken feathers, aluminum cans, and biodegradable trash bags filled with stories from local newspapers were used by jeweler Adam Neeley to create an haute couture outfit inspired by Coco Chanel.

The final entry was jeweler Laura Carley's Queen of Hearts, created from recycled playing cards from the Mirage Hotel & Casino.

"The artists outdid themselves," said festival exhibitor Linda Potichke.

Every outfit should have won a prize, but the judges were limited to three.

Top prize of $1,000 marks went to "Eucalyptus Rising," which also won the people's choice award. Chaplin won the $500 second prize. Third prize of $250 went to Neeley's "Ms. Ooh La La."

Artist Andre Mirpolsky, actress Joely Fisher and fashion executive and Arts Commissioner Suzi Chavel judged the show.

Fisher has starred in television, on film and on Broadway, an Emmy Award winner and Golden Globe nominee. In addition to her acting career Fisher has been named Artist Ambassador for Save the Children and the Celebrity Ambassador for The Dream Foundation.

She is the daughter of the late Eddie Fisher and actress-singer Connie Stevens, who attended the show.

Stevens' hair is every bit as beautiful as it was when she starred as Cricket Blake on television's "Hawaiian Eye" from 1959 to 1963.

"That's just not right," said Kollenda.

Miripolsky's artistic accomplishements include painting a mural on UCLA's center court at Pauley Pavilion for part of the 1992-1993 MTV show "Rock and Jock B-Ball Jam." From 1997-2004, Miripolsky produced a collection of huge scenic paintings and floors for the guest bands' segments on the "Tonight Show."

His slogan is "Fear No Art," an internationally recognized pop icon.

Chauvel has traveled about 40 weeks a year as a fashion executive since 1985. In between she sits on the Arts Commission and judges the Patriots Day Parade.

As Creative Director of Ocean Pacific, she directed staff and design offices in 46 countries. She has won four Telly Awards for her documentaries about international design and fashion

Chauvel has been featured as the keynote speaker at conferences in Shanghai, London, Salzberg and Cologne and has appeared on "Dateline NBC," "Good Morning America," BBC News and MTV News. Her art work has been exhibited locally at John and Rebecca Barber's Studio Arts Gallery.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond, P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652; call (949) 380-4321 or e-mail coastlinepilot@latimes.com

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