While feathers and sequins are runway staples, it takes a special type of designer to make exotic apparel and stunning accessories out of condoms. At the second annual Condom Couture, 29 style connoisseurs will fashion whimsical apparel and accessories out of multicolored condoms for a Planned Parenthood South Atlantic fundraiser at Neighborhood Theatre.
The designers can alter and embellish the condoms however they wish. Each runway designer is provided with at least 1,000 nonlubricated condoms, and designs range from ballgowns to bathing suits to jewelry. Designers include fine artists, a burlesque performer, a textile student and professional designers from local shops.
Artist Sharon Dowell is coordinating the designers with Elizabeth Paynter and is creating one-of-a-kind Army Men necklaces and fascinators for the show. She’s using black and white condoms, combined with pearls and pale pink tulle. Dowell cut, tied, twisted, braided and sewed the condoms until she found a look and feel she liked. “I wanted a bit of a surprise for the viewer; to see the feminine and ethereal accessories, and then upon further inspection, one notices toy soldiers and condoms incorporated into the pieces,” she wrote in an email.
Cosplay enthusiast Amberle Linnea likes to design pieces that have shock value. The birdcage dress she created for Charlotte Fashion Week’s Recycle Show featured live birds. For that reason her design is under wraps until showtime. She shares that “the challenge is that I’ve had to sew by hand. At least they aren’t lubricated!” She’s working with 3,000 purple and teal condoms.
Henderson was recently placed in the top five emerging designers competition at Park Avenue Fashion Week in Winter Park, Fla. Henderson’s 2015 creation for Condom Couture was a short cocktail dress with a silver top and Carolina Panthers colored condoms overlying a white skirt. His 2016 design is in progress: “At the moment it is all black, with tulle and volume. I’m going for a classic old Hollywood glamour moment. However ... being that I’m an artist ... I could make something new before the show ... which might happen.”
Flavia Lovatelli is a sustainable artist who uses repurposed materials in her work. For this event, she’s created his-and-her outfits. The man’s suit pairs a Beatles/’60s/Pierre Cardin collarless jacket with skinny pants and is made of wrappers with teal condom accent and duct-tape piping; the woman’s design is a cocktail dress with shawl in teal pinstripes and fringe and cream-colored strap halter top.
Linda Vista is an assemblage and mosaic artist. Her condom creations are two styles of jewelry. The first is a basic wrist wrap in assorted color combinations; the second is earrings that can stand alone or mix and match with the bracelets for a retro, costume-jewelry look.
Hunter Andrews is a senior in fashion and textile design at N.C. State, and she says her dress is inspired by the back-to-nature trend, focusing on textures and floral motifs that offer a break from a tech-filled world. A fitted crop top with flower embellishments applied to a nude netting is paired with a full circle skirt textured with fringe.
Holly Machado says she’s drawing inspiration from a well-known symbol of pop culture. She’s developed what she believes is a unique technique for utilizing condoms, but it’s a secret until showtime.
Artist and burlesque performer Kat Sweet’s runway design will deviate from her usual 1950s style by pulling from the 1750s in terms of shape. She’s keeping the color scheme simple, with black, white and a touch of purple.
Condom Couture Charlotte
What: Fundraiser for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.
When: Feb. 27; doors open at 8 p.m.
Where: Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St.
Details: $35 at the door; online tickets: bit.ly/1SQAP0r.