Cinderella had it too easy with her cuddly team of woodland stylists. In the real world of Savannah Arts Academy, one girl has just spent months constructing a bustier from gathered pine cone scales, using her bare hands.
This represents only one of the 70+ pieces of fierce wearable art being composed by 10th-12th graders, meant to survive the runway multiple times at the sixth annual Junk 2 Funk Fashion Show. Three separate performances will take place Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at the Savannah Arts Academy for Visual and Performing Arts school theater.
The final show will feature the judges' selections in an awards show, followed by the after party on picturesque Washington Avenue. All three events have already sold out, but a limited number of balcony seat tickets for each will be released one hour before curtain.
Under the direction of visual arts instructors Trellis Payne and Meghan Scoggins, student designers will feature "trash" that they've painstakingly transformed into sublime, avant-garde fashion.
"It's entertainment for the audience, but it's blood, sweat and tears for everyone involved," said Savannah Arts Academy Principal Gifford Lockley. "We are hearing from schools all over the country who want to learn from this event. It's not just a fashion show. It's a story."
The story, as always, is a collaboration between students and faculty across disciplines working with local business partners.
The theme this year is "The Forces of Nature." While the naturally sourced designs representing earth, wind, fire and rain are paraded by live models, the elemental struggle will be realized through dance performances by the Savannah Arts Dance Department. Senior dance majors choreograph original numbers for the show.
"This all started when Meghan Scoggins was my student teacher and I wanted to somehow capitalize on her fashion background," said Payne, laughing. "We put together a little show after school one day, and it was such a hit that I couldn't help but think, 'Hmm ... We could take this into the theater and turn it into the visual arts department's performance piece.' Five years later, it's become this sold-out three-day extravaganza."
Since no fairy godmothers are involved in the making of this couture, the ingenuity of students' designs must pass the runway test beyond the stroke of midnight. The Junk 2 Funk look books, coffee table tomes created by the photography students and available for purchase at the events, will capture the fruits of all that labor either way.
Student designers will be judged by the official "Junk Jury," comprised of local designers, fashion critics, boutique owners and style experts.
Winners will be determined based on their use of recycled materials, design innovation, quality of craftsmanship and overall "wow" factor in presentation.
Savannah's very own "Project Runway" contestant, Mitchell Hall, will be back this year to judge contestants as they "make it work."
Bree Thomas, owner of fab'rik and co-founder of Savannah's Fashion Night, is also reprising her Junk Jury duty this year.
"As president of Savannah Fashion Week, I can say that this year is particularly exciting," said Heather Burge, Junk Jury judge and owner of BleuBelle Boutique & Bridal. "I'm looking forward to a special surprise announcement regarding our selection of Savannah Arts Academy as our official charitable partner for 2014."
"Our mission (with SFW) is to highlight the incredible people who are building our city into a regional style destination, and Meghan Scoggins and Trellis Payne have provided an incredible outlet for students interested in pursuing a career in the creative arts field," she said.