Podcast Ep. 7 MARINA DEBRIS, THE GROTESQUE BEAUTY OF TRASHION

Marina DeBris on the Wardrobe Crisis Podcast

If you've listened to this Episode on iTunes already, welcome to the SHOW NOTES. If you haven't heard it yet, scroll down to LISTEN HERE:

 

Do you love our MUSIC? It's by our friend Montaigne, who sang a special acoustic version of "Because I love You" just for us. It's from her album Glorious Heights. Montaigne is electrifying live - check here for a list of her upcoming Australian dates.

EPISODE 7 FEATURES MARINA DEBRIS

American visual artist Marina DeBris calls herself a TRASHION designer, as well as an environmental activist, and anti-plastics campaigner. She makes her "Beach Couture" collections from rubbish she finds washed up on the beaches of Los Angeles and Sydney.

There’s a history of fashion designers referencing rubbish. John Galliano's controversial Spring 2000 haute couture collection for Christian Dior featured newspaper prints inspired by the homeless people he used to jog past along the Seine river in Paris. 

Christian Dior Couture Spring 2000

Christian Dior Couture Spring 2000

 

Vivienne Westwood has also dabbled in derelicte chic (as has Mugatu). These designers used luxurious fabrics to render garbage inspiration gorgeous. Jean Paul Gaultier went a step further with his famous Sac Poubelle dress from 1980 - made from bin liners, it was accessorised with bangles made from OLD TIN CANS. Fabulous, darling. More recently Jeremy Scott’s Autumn '17 ready-to-wear collection for Moschino was inspired by cardboard packaging.

Moschino Autumn '17

Moschino Autumn '17

But what Marina does comes from a very different place. She doesn’t want her work to be considered chic, or fabulous or fashionable. She wants it to SHOCK YOU.

Marina DeBris is not her real name of course. It’s the sort of name that you might hear in a drag queen bar in her adopted home of Sydney, and that’s not accidental. Marina’s work is a performance piece.

There’s a bustier embellished with so-called disposable utensils. A posh frock fashioned from the flimsy, floaty remnants of old white plastic carrier bags. Her design Takeaway Queen is made from polystyrene containers, and she’s made pieces from rescued fabric, bed springs, even dead bird’s wings.

In this Episode we talk about why she makes her work, how she does it, and what sort of reactions she gets.

Fashion can be a conduit for cultural conversation, so why no hijack it and use as a frame of reference for political art? That’s what Marina does , who once fancied being a jeweller, and studied metal smithy and graphic design, does with her provocative, confronting project trashion. Can you wear it? IF YOU DARE!

Made by Marina DeBris from trash that washed up on the beach. Modeled by Nana Ghana and photo by ©Kelly Fajack

Made by Marina DeBris from trash that washed up on the beach. Modeled by Nana Ghana and photo by ©Kelly Fajack

LINKS TO MAKE YOU THINK...

HEAL THE BAY is a non-profit environmental advocacy group based in Santa Monica, California, dedicated to protecting the local coastline and surrounding watershed.

Do you know about David Suzuki? He's a world leader in sustainable ecology. He is the recipient of more awards than you can poke a stick at including, in 2009, the Right Livelihood Award which is considered the alternative Nobel Prize. Read about his work here.

Gyres attract marine debris

Gyres attract marine debris

The LA-based Five Gyres Institute advocates for more ocean, less plastic through art and eduction outreach programs. As they explain, "A gyre is a large-scale system of wind-driven surface currents in the ocean. The gyres referred to in the name of our organisation are the five main subtropical gyres—located in the North and South Pacific, the North and South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean—which are massive, circular current systems." Why is there plastic in the gyres? "The accumulation zones of plastic that form in the five subtropical gyres are a result of the diminished winds and currents occurring at latitudes synonymous with continental deserts. Basically, plastic is trapped within these currents, taking at least 10 years to cycle back out—if it doesn’t first get eaten by marine life or sink to the bottom."

'Aquarium of the Pacific gyre'  by Marina DeBris, Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia 2014

'Aquarium of the Pacific gyre'  by Marina DeBris, Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia 2014

Creepy chic? Controversially cool? Whatever you call it - it gets the message across: WE NEED TO KICK OUT PLASTICS HABIT! For more info on why, listen to Episode 3 of the podcast, with marine biologist Dr Jennifer Lavers.

"SUGAR COATED" by Marina DeBris Balls, stuffed animals & candy wrappers were found washed up on the beach. Modelled by Sienna & Alice, photo by Stephen Wong.

"SUGAR COATED" by Marina DeBris Balls, stuffed animals & candy wrappers were found washed up on the beach. Modelled by Sienna & Alice, photo by Stephen Wong.

Fun fact: Marina studied metalwork and jewellery design at college before transferring into graphic design...

 

“THE TRUE FUNCTION OF JEWELLERY IS TO DECORATE, TO ORNAMENT, AND THUS COMMAND ATTENTION AND ADMIRATION. IN THIS SENSE THE ORNAMENT MUST REVEAL FORM THAT IS WORTHY AND EXPRESSIVE OF ITS TIME." - ALMA EIKERMAN

Here's Alma!

Here's Alma!

I WAS FASCINATED to learn from Marina about the extraordinary Alma Eikerman. She taught at Indiana University in until 1978, having graduated from Columbia then worked in Denmark and Stockholm in the 1950s. Her modernist pieces were bold and daring. I'm excited to discover her work, examples of which are held by the Smithsonian.

Alma Eikerman bracelet, 1980. Smithsonian American Art Museum

Alma Eikerman bracelet, 1980. Smithsonian American Art Museum

LET'S TALK...TRASHION

Nancy Judd runs  the Recycle Runway events in the US to educate about people about trash. In she designed this dapper coat made from waste paper from the 2008 Barack Obama election campaign. Leaflets were cut into two-inch strips and machine sewn to panels made from canvas scraps. The panels were hand stitched on the vintage man’s winter coat. It took 25 volunteers over 400 hours to complete - and it gets our vote. (Ha! - ed.)

Nancy Judd coat Obama campaign flyers

LARA IRELAND'S high fashion graduate collection was made, beautifully, from plastic shopping bags. Read about it here.

LARA IRELAND'S GRADUATE COLLECTION

LARA IRELAND'S GRADUATE COLLECTION

 

MARINA'S DESIGNS, which are part of a continuous (seasonless!) collection called "Beach Couture, An Haute Mess" are delightfully grotesque. Made from all kinds of junk, from dummies to dog balls, single-use plastic containers, bags, cigarette lighters, bed spring and fabric scraps, basically anything - and everything -  she finds beach combing. Here, some of our favourites:

Marina DeBris dress made from discarded fishing nets

Marina DeBris dress made from discarded fishing nets

"White Trash" by Marina DeBris photographed by Richard Flynn

"White Trash" by Marina DeBris photographed by Richard Flynn

"Takeaway Queen" byMarine DeBris photographed in Malibu by Monching Flores

"Takeaway Queen" byMarine DeBris photographed in Malibu by Monching Flores

THANK YOU FOR JOINING THE WARDROBE CRISIS CONVERSATION. WE'LL HAVE A NEW EPISODE FOR YOU EVERY WEDNESDAY. CAN YOU HELP US SPREAD THE WORD? WE'D LOVE YOU TO TELL YOUR FRIENDS & LEAVE A REVIEW IN iTUNES.

Until next time,

Clare x