Fundraiser takes 'trash the dress' to a lovely level

Maria DiMaggio, left, and Lauren Sposato of the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce took part in the Trashion Show fundraiser at the Granite Theatre in Westerly Tuesday night. DiMaggio's dress is made from pistachio shells and tickets for Saturday's annual Rubber Ducky Race on the Pawcatuck River. (She is coordinating the event.) Sposato's dress is made from weathered clothespins.
Maria DiMaggio, left, and Lauren Sposato of the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce took part in the Trashion Show fundraiser at the Granite Theatre in Westerly Tuesday night. DiMaggio's dress is made from pistachio shells and tickets for Saturday's annual Rubber Ducky Race on the Pawcatuck River. (She is coordinating the event.) Sposato's dress is made from weathered clothespins. Desiree Dugan photo

"Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn."

— Gore Vidal

WESTERLY — From bodices adorned with silver spoons to big, puffy skirts of delicately layered packing paper, the Trashion Show at the Granite Theatre Tuesday night was a beautiful spectacle.

Dozens of local professionals, artists and young people flexed their creativity to take part in this unique fundraiser, in which ordinary items were recycled into 40 wearable — and memorable —outfits.

Many participants used material drawn from their line of work — paint samples, wine corks, CDs, bubble wrap, balloons and beer tabs. In the hour leading up to the event, models arrived one after the other, gingerly lifting their trains through the theater's historic wooden doors. Audience members lingered around the reception area, enjoying glimpses of the show to come — a tall, bright red hairpiece fashioned from wine box dividers, a sheath dress made out of playing cards.

Tickets sold out more than a week prior to the event, so a heated tent with a large television for viewing the event was set up on the grounds. Models also made their way their way down the stairs and the front walkway to the audience outside. The evening raised $3,600 to benefit the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce and to support the campaign to repair the historic downtown Granite Theatre.

Among the highlights:

Marianne Mirando modeling a floor-length, fluttering skirt made entirely of tickets from the Granite Theatre

Lisa Konicki, president of the Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber, emceeing the festivities in a voluminous pink gown fashioned from chicken wire and coffee-filter flowers

Angela Thoman of Paddy's Beach Restaurant in Misquamicut tossing wine corks to the audience as she danced down the aisle

Madison Konicki's beach-themed party dress — the skirt made of multicolored, deflated beach balls and the bodice detailed with paper drink umbrellas

Liz Pasqualini, president of the non-profit Bradford Jonnycake Center, looking like a cross between Lady Gaga and the Queen of Hearts as she showed off a Victorian-style evening gown made of soup labels and spoons

Ricky Shawn Jr. and Lexi Scott modeling clothes built from duct tape, including a tie, hip bag and dress

Westerly resident Brittany Dolan displaying her love for her town in a pretty party dress made of Rhode Island maps

Rose Maloney of Bella Vita Salon showing off an ornate black and pink tango dress made of shampoo capes, gloves and foil, with hair clips detailing the hems

Chamber employee Kirsten Petrizzo, modeling a dress made from playing cards and poker chips donated by Foxwoods

Michelle Kirms clinking as she walked in a sheath dress with a fun, silvery train made of beer can tops and tabs from Grey Sail Brewing

Check out our Facebook page for more photos and the Chamber's Facebook page for fun before and after shots.

~

More about the theater:

The Granite Theatre, a white-columned downtown landmark, began its life as a Greek Revival Church in 1846. Its steeple was lost during the Hurricane of 1938 but the rest of the building endured. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and while the main structure is in good condition, a recent inspection revealed that extensive work was needed on one of the columns and the portico.

Construction work has revealed some mysterious notes on the building's history; most recently the name "John H. Conroy" was found written in long script on a wall in the portico. Artistic directors David and Beth Jepson recently circulated the photo on the Granite's Facebook page, hoping to find someone who recognizes the name.

The theater stages a number of musicals, plays, original and musical performances each year.

For more information, visit the theater's website or Facebook page or call 401.596.2341.

Ashley Hoffman of Melissa Ashley Bridal models a wedding dress made entirely of white garbage bags.
Ashley Hoffman of Melissa Ashley Bridal models a wedding dress made entirely of white garbage bags. Desiree Dugan photo
Connie Kowal models a dress made of wrappers from Hauser Chocolates in Westerly. The design took roughly 100 hours to create.
Connie Kowal models a dress made of wrappers from Hauser Chocolates in Westerly. The design took roughly 100 hours to create. Desiree Dugan photo
Deanna Barrus represents the Westerly Public Library in a dress designed by Brigitte Hopkins, made from used books, CDs and DVDs.
Deanna Barrus represents the Westerly Public Library in a dress designed by Brigitte Hopkins, made from used books, CDs and DVDs. Desiree Dugan photo
Detail from a floor-length dress fluttering with tickets from the Granite Theatre, modeled by Marianne Mirando. Susan Denice, who designed the dress along with Maria DiMaggio and Kaela Hurd, said it took about 10 hours to sew the tickets and 20 hours to create in all.
Detail from a floor-length dress fluttering with tickets from the Granite Theatre, modeled by Marianne Mirando. Susan Denice, who designed the dress along with Maria DiMaggio and Kaela Hurd, said it took about 10 hours to sew the tickets and 20 hours to create in all. Desiree Dugan photo
Jenny Middleton proudly modeled this dress of her own creation, made from mylar balloons, wrapping paper and feathers.
Jenny Middleton proudly modeled this dress of her own creation, made from mylar balloons, wrapping paper and feathers. Desiree Dugan photo
Katie Levcowich of Pleasant Acres Nursery in Westerly models one of the more unusual gowns of the evening - at least the only one that boasted live plants.
Katie Levcowich of Pleasant Acres Nursery in Westerly models one of the more unusual gowns of the evening - at least the only one that boasted live plants. Desiree Dugan photo
Liz Pasqualini of the Bradford Jonnycake Center shines with her soup-bowl hair ornament and label-and-spoon-decorated dress.
Liz Pasqualini of the Bradford Jonnycake Center shines with her soup-bowl hair ornament and label-and-spoon-decorated dress. Desiree Dugan photo
Ocean Lombard, representing Coppola's boutique in Watch Hill, descends the stairs in a delicate creation of sand and shells.
Ocean Lombard, representing Coppola's boutique in Watch Hill, descends the stairs in a delicate creation of sand and shells. Desiree Dugan photo
Selene England of Charlestown had help from her grandmother, Cheryl Fiske, in fashioning this outfit from buttons and plastic bottles.
Selene England of Charlestown had help from her grandmother, Cheryl Fiske, in fashioning this outfit from buttons and plastic bottles. Desiree Dugan photo
Tiffany Luzzi, representing Servpro, models a dress made from bubble wrap and cardboard.
Tiffany Luzzi, representing Servpro, models a dress made from bubble wrap and cardboard. Desiree Dugan photo
Caution! Tinamarie Plenniger of Westerly designed and modeled this fabulous dress.
Caution! Tinamarie Plenniger of Westerly designed and modeled this fabulous dress. Desiree Dugan photo
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