8_2_21 / Upcycled
Something old: wasteful wedding conventions taking a toll on the environment. Something Blue: Aida Blue in upcycled and vintage wedding gowns that we can commit to.
Text_ Cara Schacter
Model_ Aida Blue
Photography_ Annie Powers
Fashion Editor_ Jaime Kay Waxman
Design Realization_ Martin Keehn
Hair_ Dylan Chavles
Makeup_ Laura Stiassni
Designer_ Martin Keehn
Something old: weddings are costly. Financial burden aside, they take their toll on the environment. The average American wedding reportedly produces four hundred to six hundred pounds of garbage and emits sixty-two tons of carbon dioxide. Given the approximate 2.4 million nuptials performed per year in the U.S., we’re wedding ourselves to carbon footprints of unholy scale.
The honeymoon is over. It’s time to reconsider wasteful social conventions and we’re starting with The Dress. The typical bridal gown is worn for less than twelve hours before being entombed in a dry-cleaning bag. It doesn’t have to be this way.
There are exciting strides being taken down the aisle in the church of upcycling and vintage. Take, for example, the latest collaboration between Jaime Kay Waxman and Martin Keehn. Spawned by quarantine-creative-restlessness, fashion editor, Jaime Kay, had the inspired idea to upcycle old wedding dresses from Goodwill and eBay. She gave herself a spending limit of forty dollars per gown, bought eight wedding dresses, and asked her long-time friend and menswear designer, Martin Keehn, to join forces.
The result: fourteen pieces that upend the concept of a wedding dress. Literally – one of the pieces is a dress turned upside down. Fragments of a paper-white David’s bridal gown are combined with bits of neoprene from Raf Simons era Calvin Klein samples. A tulle skirt explodes from stitched together bits of BMX bike pants. Mountaineering cord is recycled as straps.
Inspired by the architectural grandeur and otherworldliness of designers like Rei Kawakubo, Molly Goddard, and Simone Rocha, the collection has an untamed energy – the all-too apt hyperactivity and exuberance of something that has come back to life after prolonged confinement.
The editor-designer duo also styled unaltered vintage gowns with contemporary accessories (read: beat-up Nike Daybreaks found at the Goodwill on west 25th). The vintage route is another great sustainable wedding dress option. Even if you’re not re-working the garment on a structural level, there are many ways to style vintage that make it feel fresh.
“The [sourced] dresses felt like ghosts,” Martin said. “It’s like there was this happiness in some purgatory waiting to exist again.” He explained the project felt like an exercise in “recycling other people’s dreams – taking that energy or hope and not letting it die in a thrift store but instead turning it into whatever… I don’t think any of them landed as ‘bridal’, they landed as some otherly piece”.
Jaime concurred: “We were recycling not only the dress but what they mean […] It was supposed to be a playful medium, not a big social commentary – but it’s hard not to think about what it all means when you’re messing with these pieces […] I’m not really into weddings but I like the idea of a celebratory garment… and these felt like a wild celebration.”