Fashion Show Teaches Lessons In Creativity, Repurposing

From left, Annabella Blatt, 9, Olivia Blatt, 9, both of Wheeling and Martins Ferry seventh-grader Audra Kosky model their handmade designs for the Upcycled Fashion Show at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville on Aug. 5. Annabella and Olivia took first and second place, respectively, in their age group, while Audra won third in the 10-14 age group.

Learning typically takes a recess in summer, but several local girls put on their thinking caps to craft creative clothing out of cast-off items and recyclable materials for the annual Upcycled Fashion Show.

The young fashionistas strutted down the runway at the Ohio Valley Mall Centre Court in St. Clairsville last Saturday wearing repurposed curtains, water bottles, cardboard and trash bags, not to mention lamp shades, egg cartons, packing peanuts and newspapers.

“This show is a chance to highlight the creativity and ingenuity of kids and give them a chance to be center stage,” said Valerie Reed, Children’s Museum director, who organized the event.

She added she hopes it encouraged the designers and the audience to “think about waste, consumerism and disposable products. Some of the products used in the show will never break down (styrofoam, plastic) and also cause environmental strain, important concepts about which to educate ourselves,” she said via email.

It was the second year for the show, which is sponsored by the mall and St. Clairsville Rotary.

The winners in the younger two age groups (9 and under and 10-14) were sisters Annabella Blatt, 9, and Emily Blatt, 10. Thier sister Olivia Blatt, also 9, came in second in her age group. Their sisters Lauryn and Kaila, both 9, also entered the show. Their mother, Kathy Blatt of Wheeling, said the girls were excited about doing the show, and she realized after the fact that it served as a great art project for their homeschool curriculum. They did all the work, although she guided them. They created shoes, hair accessories and purses completely on their own.

“It was fun. They had fun with it,” Blatt said.

Annabella won in the 9 and younger age group in an ensemble made of pink scrap material festooned with empty, clear water bottles and punctuated with a standup collar fashioned from bottle caps. Olivia wore a yellow and white tiered flapper dress made of packing paper and white and yellow plastic bags. Third place in the 9 and younger category was at tie between Mariah Gadd, 9, a student at Franklin Primary School in Wellsburg, who wore a shift made of trash bags and duct tape adorned with card stock and sea shells; and Emmerson Icard, 6, a student at Glen Dale Elementary School, who created her outfit out of a crib sheet and curtains, decorated with food wrappers and Play-Doh containers.

Emily Blatt won the 10-14 age group with her gown made of dozens of different sized discs of accordioned newsprint. Second place in this age group went to Martins Ferry seventh-grader Marli Krol, who sewed cast-off clothing into a new design with a denim skirt and a collared top. Her classmate Audrey Kosky took third in a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” themed outfit made from a bedskirt and topped with a lampshade hat.

In the 15-18 age group, there was only one entry, a stunning red gown with an asymetrical skirt handsewn using a black plastic tablecloth and cutouts from cardboard Coke boxes, created and modeled by 2017 Brooke High School graduate Angela Gadd.

Emily Blatt, 10, of Wheeling shows off her newspaper gown, complete with a train, jewelry, hair bow and handbag, during the Upcycled Fashion Show at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville on Aug. 5.

“This year we were pleased with the themes of the pieces. They were bright and unique,” Reed said.

Serving as judges were Amber Toriseva, gifted coordinator for Belmont County Schools; Greg Moore and Scott Ludolph of Scrappy Pappy’s Recycling in Wheeling; and Courtney Comack, Schrader Environmental Education Center educator. They scored the designers on craftsmanshiop, originality, overall impact, sustainability and upcycled content. Winners received cash prizes. 

Angela Gadd, a recent graduate of Brooke High School, models the red dress she created from a black plastic tablecloth and Coca-Cola boxes for the Upcycled Fashion Show at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville on Aug. 5. The show is sponsored by the Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley to give youth a creative outlet while also teaching them to think critically about disposable products that otherwise would enter landfills.