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The Green Life: Fashion That’s Meant to be Trashy

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September 23, 2011

Fashion That’s Meant to be Trashy

Recycle Runway You wouldn't want to live next to a landfill, so would you ever consider wearing what's in it? After seeing the eco-couture fashions of designer Nancy Judd, you might just say yes.

Judd, an educator and artist, started Recycle Runway to bring attention to the overlooked beauty in stuff that's sent to the trash heap — she creates couture clothing and accessories out of items commonly found in the dumpster. The wearable objets d’art — formal dresses, capes, boots and purses — are displayed in airports, malls, and museums. Including the Smithsonian.

Target flamenco dress Judd's designs are often sponsored by corporations, who encourage her to take trash that features their logos and turn it into high-end design. She made Target’s familiar red bull's eye the pattern for her Carmen Miranda-inspired dress, and fashioned Delta’s safety cards and pretzel bags into a cape that complements a uniform made of old seat covers.

Judd is no newcomer to spreading the message of the importance of creative reuse. For more than two decades, she worked in the solid-waste industry, including as the recycling coordinator for the city of Santa Fe. After starting a trash-fashion contest in her arts-loving city to raise awareness, Judd started Recycle Runway in 1998.

Nancy Judd in a recycled aluminum dress "I find fashion to be an effective way of getting these ideas across," she said. "People seem to respond positively to a pretty dress. It’s a cheerful way to encourage people to think about deeper issues." 

If you’re at Atlanta International Airport through next April, look for 18 pieces of Judd's fashion collection in Concourse E. After that, they’ll go on a U.S. museum tour.

Judd doesn't rest on the laurels of her previous designs, though. She's constantly creating new pieces and is working on an “Eco Flamenco” dress that’ll be covered in cereal-box ruffles. Each cardboard flair will have a green wish written on the back.

--Kimberly Button

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