Wearing one-of-a-kind wedding dresses made from any materials they could find, Blake High students strutted down the catwalk Tuesday night for the school's "Walking Art" fundraiser.
The event, called "Runway Project '11," featured wedding gowns donated to the school by La France in Ybor City. But the dresses were barely recognizable after being deconstructed and re-imagined by 25 costume design students.
Student teams chose used feathers and flowers, baskets and bubble wrap to adorn dresses they gave names like "Make it Rain," "Green Christmas," "Party Animal" and "Gaga for Duct Tape."
Designer Christina Azmita created an undersea gown she dubbed "Aquatica." After dying the one-shoulder white gown green, she deconstructed each panel of the dress and used green and brown tulle to mimic her "Little Mermaid" muse. She also painted the dress with gel colors, crafted a mermaid bottom with a train and attached seashells. Some beach sand, kept in place with hair spray, a feather boa and a red wig completed the look.
"("The Little Mermaid") is my sister's favorite movie," said Azmita, 17, who is in the 11th grade. "My original idea was one ("Project Runway" winner) Christian Siriano did, but it was too difficult to create. This is my reinterpretation of a dress he did. I was surprised at how well it turned out."
For Angel Warren and Katelynn McElrath, inspiration came from a Coke can.
The duo took a white high-neck, long-sleeve wedding gown and turned it into a short fire-engine-red dress adorned with ruffles and cola cans.
"My parents drink a lot of Coca-Cola," said McElrath, 17, a sophomore. "I saw my mother drinking Coke one day and got the idea for the dress."
The mini-dress took three days to create. "The end result looks nothing like the original sketch," said Warren, 16, a freshman who is an avid sewer. "We used color pencils to shape the Coke cans and then I decided to add the ruffles."
The show raised $3,400 for Blake's costume design program, which was closed due to budget cuts and was resuscitated this year.
"This event helps redevelop the program," said Jared Porter, costume design instructor. "We expected around 25 students, and 250 people showed up today. We really don't have anything, so this (fundraiser) is something we really need. I am so proud of our students. They took the "Project Runway" idea far beyond my expectations."
Porter said the costume design program needs sewing machines, sewing kits and nice fabric.
After the show, all of the dresses went on sale to benefit the program, but it was evident some student designers found it hard to part with their creations.
"This dress is like my child," Warren said. "It's going to be very hard to let it go."