Wearing a mask took on a whole new meaning at Runway RePurposed, a fashion show by The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division.
Designers were challenged to take everyday items and remake them into wearable fashions. North Allegheny seniors Abby Rapp and Madison Krause took home the Best Student Design trophy for their chic outfit made entirely out of black face masks.
Rapp and Krause are part of the Family Consumer Sciences class at the high school taught by instructor and FCS department chair, Elizabeth Gallagher. All of the students had to brainstorm as to what everyday, throw-away item would work. Rapp and Krause hit on an idea that reflected a highly disposable and timely item.
“Masks are so relevant in culture today. I thought it would be a cool idea,” said Rapp, 18.
And if made into a dress, black masks can “look very classy,” said Krause, 17.
The students first sketched design ideas, and once they got their look, they tried to sew the masks together, which was difficult. Both said they weren’t super skilled sewers at first, but learned as they went along.
“Honestly, we hoped for the best as we went,” Krause said.
Their final product was a pencil skirt paired with a peplum-inspired top, modeled by NASH junior Julia Berger.
All of the students in the Family Consumer Sciences class had to submit designs, which would be voted on by the high school staff, Gallagher said. Rapp and Krause got the most votes, followed by juniors Trinity Fitzgerald and Julia Berger and senior Jamey Simon for their design of a birthday party-inspired dress made from a disposable tablecloth and related items.
And seniors Jaida Copeland and Brooke Demers-Pollard also got NASH runners-up for their design of a gown made of Target bags. Since Rapp and Krause received the most votes, their outfit went to the Runway RePurposed show held at the Sheraton Station Square.
The fundraiser awarded a Best Student Design, and boutiques and local designers could vie for Best Design.
The outfits were judged on the gala runway according to their use of repurposed materials, creativity and overall appeal, according to The Salvation Army.
Rapp and Krause, who attended the event in October, were delighted to win the top prize. Rapp said the project helped her look at things more sustainably, where clothes come from and how to repurpose them.
And it taught Krause that they can “take something we normally throw away and turn it into something really beautiful.”
Formerly known as Garbage Bag Gala, Runway RePurposed raised funds and awareness for The Salvation Army’s Family Caring Center in East Liberty, which helps struggling families. The theme of the event was, “everyone and everything deserves a second chance.”
The center provides shelter and meals for families experiencing homelessness and is one of the few shelters that allow entire families to stay, according to the Salvation Army website. Each year, more than 150 families utilize the shelter, which not only provides basic necessities, but ways to help them succeed outside of the center.
The event grossed more than $86,000, and netted more than $73,844, according to Stephanie Rex, director of marketing and public relations for The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division.
“Our Salvation Army Family Stores have long practiced repurposing unwanted items to fund residential rehabilitation services for individuals seeking to break the cycle of addiction. Now, our Runway RePurposed event shines the spotlight on fashion with reimagined creations from recycled and repurposed materials; all the while spreading awareness and raising funds to support local families who are finding a new purpose in their lives at the Family Caring Center,” said Major Gregory Hartshorn, divisional commander of The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division.
North Allegheny offers Family and Consumer Sciences for grades six through 12, including courses on food and nutrition, personal finance, child development, career readiness skills, interior design, and fashion design and merchandising, according to Gallagher.
The classes give students skills for the workplace, the community and their homes, according to Gallagher, who recently received the Emerging Professional Award from the 2021 Norton School Alumni and Friends Awards Program.
“The FCS department is also committed to sustainability and community service. We are preparing students for an ever-changing world by teaching modern tools to manage the one that will always remain – the home,” Gallagher said.
Natalie Beneviat is a Trib Total Media contributing writer.