“Come get trashy with us,” is Lonnie Hanzon’s pitch for his upcoming inaugural Trash Fashion Show benefit for the GLBT Community Center of Colorado. “Come look at our junk,” he implores. The Lakewood-based artist and immersive-events designer has no doubt stored up an arsenal of tongue-in-cheek invitations to buy tickets and come join him for a “trashay down the runway,” but his real hope is that the event speaks for itself.
First off, says Hanzon, who’s created several community-building installations for PrideFest (including this year’s "Equal Threshold"), there’s the charitable cause attached: “The Center is best known for PrideFest, but they also have six or seven programs that are so important to the community, and that’s part of this, too,” he notes. “We’d like to see more support for these programs tailored to elders, youth and more.” Funds will also help beef up PrideFest.
And then there’s the conservationist angle, which became more apparent to Hanzon while working at the environment-friendly Houston Zoo, where he mounts a holiday Zoo Lights display every year: It’s just plain shocking to him how much trash we actually throw away, and trash fashion is his way of introducing slow fashion and other concepts born of environmental awareness to an audience. “I’m blown away to learn that fast fashion makes up the third-largest landfill product,” Hanzon explains. “We’re consuming more and more goods that don't last, so we throw them away. Companies like H&M were caught shredding metric tons of stuff every year that will never go away, and then the microfibers get into our landfills and then into our fish.”
So when he was solicited for help in finding famous designers for a possible Pride Week fashion fundraiser during a meeting at the Center, Hanzon countered with an idea that had already been floating in the back of his mind: “I didn’t know any, but I said, ‘What if we made clothing out of trash, to show that gay people recycle, too?’ It shouldn't be assumed that we’re all commies, or godless and spiritless people, so why not take on conservation as something we can all share together?”
Hanzon is already well-versed in the concept of trash as an art medium. “I started working with trash and had already seen how durable it is,” he says. “There’s so much packaging being thrown away; it’s amazing how much of it there is. That’s saddening, but it does make interesting Carmen Miranda headdresses.” So he gathered together a community of fashion designers interested in working with non-traditional and found materials, from plastic garbage bags and empty water bottles to plastic tub lids and a rainbow of zip ties, and set them to the task of making clothing out of them.
“We’ve been having fun with it,” Hanzon says of the process. “All the designers have been working in the studio. People have stepped up to donate some beautiful trash, and some of our designers brought gorgeous fabric scraps.” And, he has to add, “I'm glad we have an industrial sewing machine in the studio. And zip ties.”
The results will be unveiled on June 9 at the Exdo Event Center, where the designers will compete for campy awards in six categories, sending models down the runway in trashy fashions, with hair by El Salon and makeup by Cha Cha Romero. And the gala event has even more to offer, with host Dixie Crystals of Drag Queen Story Time fame at the mic, and performances with something to please everyone, by a pole dancer, Indy Fire Boylesque and Vivienne VaVoom.
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“We have a nice family backstage. The people at Exdo know what they doing. Now we just need people to buy tickets,” Hanzon adds, maybe a little bit too earnestly.
Come show some pride and get trashy with the Center: The Trash Fashion Show debuts on Saturday, June 9, at 8 p.m. at Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street. Doors open at 6 p.m. for VIPs and 7 p.m. for general admission, and a dance party follows at Tracks at 9 p.m. Purchase tickets, $25 to $125, online at Eventbrite. Find more details at the Trash Fashion Show home page.