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“Please don’t throw away”

If the thought of wearing a black rubbish bag forces your nose to wrinkle, well, you’ll be more astonished at finding what a perfect, sexy shiny tight short dress it makes. A bit cat-woman, sadomasochistic style perhaps, but still cool, showing off the naked shoulders and legs.

It is made in one tiny, picturesque medieval hamlet near Rome where locals have launched a crusade to turn waste into elegant fashion.

In Frasso Sabino, hard to pin-point on a map, housewives and common folk have turned into unexpected designers. They have a knack, and great skill, for recycling all kinds of objects and materials that we would normally throw in the bin after use.

They work one whole year to design haute couture rubbish dresses, which are showcased at an open-air catwalk on the cobbled main piazza, luring eco-conscious fashionistas and people curious to see how insignificant stuff like tampon wrappers, torn gazebo cloth, empty coffee capsules and rubber gloves can be given a sophisticated new life.

Fashion for thought

The show is called “Please don’t throw away” and it taps into the idea that even trash is something alive, animate, which must not die after our consumerist frenzy, thrown away so easily, as it too deserves a future.

“This show gives us food, or rather fashion, for thought”, says Serena Benedetti, one of the organisers. “We are just so oblivious to all the leftover things piled-up in our houses, we never stop to think how to recycle them in a clever and awesome way”. The goal is to spread awareness on adopting a more green lifestyle.

Most clothes take months, even years, to be made. Stylists patiently cut out and collect zips from thrown away trousers and jackets to patch together in a stylish balloon dress, or drink as many coffees as possible to gather a sufficient amount of capsules to glue as decorative flowers on a bright Alice-In-Wonderland skirt.

Imagine wearing bits and pieces of potato bag nets, plastic hair dye bottles, plexiglass, flower nets, cushions, umbrellas, cords, tires of old cars, metal and copper wires, curtains, CDs, DVDs, chains, canvas grocery bags, chocolate wrappers. Or other crazy stuff like tea bags, mosquito nets, soft drinks bottle lids, fragments of wood carved out of old TV tables that perfectly fit on the body.

Skirts are made with pink bath rubber sponges, curled up in ribbons.

As stunning models make their way along the catwalk showing off the incredible creations you can hardly believe these are made of bottle corks, magnetic tape, parts of painters’ white uniforms, torn comic books pages. White gowns of polyester balls look divine, and comfortable. The waste outfits are so chic and trendy, like those straight out of a glossy magazine, that you’d think they were made by global top fashion brands.

A provocative dress is “Re-Cycle”, a princess-like gown made with tampon wrappers (the name nods at the menstrual ‘cycle’).

One of the most coolest outfits so far made is Ecomarine, dubbed The Siren for its long trail of little shiny plastic stripes attached to packaging bags that come with your online orders. The mermaids’ scales shine under the spotlights, and they’re not made with crystals but with a material that due to reckless human action is sadly contaminating the seas and destroying underwater eco-systems. That’s how a robe made of rubbish and inspired to the oceans can send a powerful message.

Frasso Sabino, nestled among olive groves and fields of grazing sheep along the banks of a pristine river, offers an idyllic detox break. It’s peaceful and quiet yet locals are pro-active. They have a deep eco-conscious approach which has led them to adopt differentiated waste collection in all houses.

Rubbish can be cleaned and made pure, new again to be worn on your skin, becoming an icon of beauty and rebirth”, says Serena. “Let’s be honest, there’s nothing that looks and feels more disgusting than trash, but that’s just because we fail to see it in a different light”. Her seamstress aunt makes lavish creations and like all the village’s do-it-yourself stylists, she’s available to make tailored waste dresses.

The catwalk’s scenography is also all about garbage. Local teenagers go knocking at people’s doors, even in other towns, to collect thousands of plastic bottles, cans and broken flower vases to decorate the winding alleys and stone dwellings. Everyone cooperates in making the rubbish-show shine under starry skies. Frasso Sabino is doing a modern kind of alchemy: turning base, nasty and ugly materials into noble garments. Because even a scrap of paper or a candy wrap can undergo a metamorphosis.

Writer: Silvia Marchetti

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