Fashion show fundraiser reflects a sustainable mission

Garbage typically doesn’t scream high-end fashion … until now.

RedLine Milwaukee's third Fall Fashion Show features a Recycled Runway Fashion Design Contest. Photo courtesy of Christopher McIntyre.

In an effort to increase funding as well as awareness about sustainability, RedLine Milwaukee will host its third Fall Fashion Show Fundraiser on Friday, Sept. 23 from 6 to 10 p.m. at RedLine, 1422 N. 4th St.

As part of the charitable organization’s second anniversary celebration, the fashion show will feature the clothing of Milwaukee-area designers and boutiques, including Bruce Paul Goodman, Simon Oliver Menswear, Upscale Resale Men’s Clothing Lounge and Minoan Intimate Apparel.

The Recycled Runway Fashion Design Contest will showcase the designs of 12 up-and-coming designers who constructed their fashion forward garments over an eight week period out of recycled or re-purposed items, said RedLine co-founder Lori Bauman. The designers will compete for “best in show,” as judged by five of the city’s fashion gurus.

Designer Jaci Rehberg said she spent about 120 hours completing her entry garment: a cocktail dress made exclusively from magazine pages and deconstructed wire hangers. The fact that the contest will feature fashion made of things most people would throw away sets the event apart as something new for Milwaukee.

“Anyone who is art friendly and conscious of what’s been going on in the green movement should definitely take notice of a fashion show that’s encouraging different materials instead of fabrics,” Rehberg said.

Rehberg said she can tell the structure of RedLine as an organization will allow it to continuously come up with bold and novel ideas like this one to help promote the arts.

“I can’t wait to do more with them,” she said.

Proceeds from the fashion show fundraiser will support RedLine’s core programs. These programs – including exhibitions, professional training for artists and arts education – aim to support professional development, accessible art and social justice in the art community. The curriculum for such programs stems from exhibitions featured in the building, which focus on art with one or more of four themes: urban agriculture, race, gender and sustainability.

Overall, the organization seeks to promote contemporary art and to stimulate the creative potential of the community.

RedLine houses a multitude of resources to make this mission possible, including exhibition space, artist studios, a community print shop, a paper making studio, a computer lab and classrooms, according to its website.

As the city’s only artist-in-residence program, RedLine currently accommodates 10 emerging artists, six teen artists and five mentoring artists, Bauman said. RedLine connects artists with community organizations through workshops, classes and outreach programs.

Resident artists apply for RedLine’s two year program, which gives them access to subsidized studio space as well as professional development opportunities, like teaching an art class or displaying their work in RedLine’s public gallery.

“They come (to RedLine) because it’s a way for them to stay connected and measure their development,” Bauman said. “We’re trying to gather a community of artists and show the community about art.”

Each resident is also assigned to a mentor artist who helps set artistic, professional and community service goals, said Dara Larson, a mentor artist at RedLine since its genesis. Throughout their time in the program, the residents strive to gain experience and ready their artwork in order to meet these goals.

Larson said she helps residents understand the integration of these goals. She also helps them develop a strong portfolio and approaches to gallery and exhibition space. The goal: to create a collaborative support system full of resources for the world’s new artistic talent.

“As a mentor, you have two or three people you’re focusing on, but all of the mentors in the building help all of the residents,” Larson said. “All of us have different skills and backgrounds, but our biggest role is to make sure (the residents) feel they have somewhere to go.”

The sound mission and educational purposes of RedLine, Larson said, along with its unique mentoring program, establish an artistic resource unmatched in any other city nationwide.

Bauman said the fashion show event can serve as an introduction to an under-recognized Milwaukee venue with a lot to offer for a small price or for no price at all.

“There are so many opportunities for students and the creative community at Redline, and they’re all based on socially relevant topics,” Bauman said. “There’s almost no one that couldn’t benefit from coming to one of our events. You’re going to learn something at RedLine.”

If nothing else, the fashion show will teach how fashion design, sustainability and art fuse together … even if they’re fused by garbage.

RedLine Milwaukee’s third Fall Fashion Show Fundraiser takes place on Friday, Sept. 23 from 6 to 10 p.m. at RedLine, 1422 N. 4th St. Tickets are $20 and include hors d’oeuvres and desserts. A cash bar will also be available. For more info on the show or about RedLine, visit redlineartmke.org.