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The gravel path leading to the entrance was decorated with candles, and white Christmas lights strung along the wooden stairs lit the main entrance to the evening’s event. Outside, participants and spectators arrived by the dozens, car tires crunching the rocky broken parking lot pavement as they pulled up and stopped alongside the railroad tracks. A few renegade models stood off to the side of the building smoking pre-show cigarettes, half dressed in an array of colorful thrift store plumage — offering a glimpse of what was yet to come.

On this oppressively humid midsummer night, artists, designers, writers, photographers — the grub-erati and the glitterati — of the Marigny-Bywater neighborhood converged on the Green Project to take part in the first annual Recycle for the Arts Worn Again Fashion Show and Thrift Store Art Edit Auction. In an un air-conditioned room above the Green project, a large and sweaty crowd squeezed into a tiny space to witness a fashion show of extraordinary talent — each volunteer fashion designer debuted a one-of-a-kind fashion creation made entirely from recycled materials. Given a bag of used clothing chosen at random from local thrift stores by the program’s coordinators, designers were presented with the challenge of crafting outfits out of simple, mismatched and sometimes hideous pieces of fabric, to be auctioned for the benefit of Recycle for the Arts, a self-described “trash-to-art storefront” that sells low-cost art supplies to the community, and supports and promotes the reuse and recycling of materials in art.

The runway, decorated in pale pink gauze and softly lit with recycled and redesigned living room lamps, played host to a fashion show that would rival any in New York, with designs that were well-crafted with an eye toward both functionality and fit as well as New Orleans’ uniquely artistic taste for the burlesque and a wonderfully timeless notion of dress.

Before, during and after the fashion show, the audience was also invited to bid in a silent auction on the art decorating the surrounding walls, as part of the Thrift Store Art Edit project. This project required various artists to choose a piece of art from a group selected at random (also from local thrift stores) by the organizers and redesign or recycle it, making a new work of art. The artwork up for auction was also displayed with before photos, to illustrate the work artists had done in recreating the piece. Proceeds from the sale of these pieces also went to benefit the Recycle for the Arts project.

That was a year ago. Now, Team Worn Again and its host of talented participants are gearing up for Worn Again II, to be held on Friday June 27, at Republic — with air conditioning and much larger space. In its second incarnation, the event will be held as a cocktail gala, including the fashion show, thrift store art edit, and a new Recycled Dance Competition. Clothing designers had just 14 days to design and create their wardrobe, while thrift store art edit participants likewise redesigned and redefined their artwork over the course of the last two weeks. Both the fashion show and the art edit projects are juried shows, in addition to being part of the auction to benefit Recycle for the Arts.


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