Before the show, there was fashion mayhem.
Amid the strewn shoes and clothes, girls called for tape to repair last minute rips and helped each other adjust hats and headpieces to the perfect angle.
As the models — most of them behind the design of their own attire — formed a line, Tsion Accornero, 8, held her red tablecloth train bunched in her arms to keep it safe from the stumbling feet around her.
“Don’t fall down, dress, don’t fall down,” she said.
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Like all the models around her on Friday, Accornero was wearing an outfit made completely out of recycled material. It was the culmination of the third annual Project Runway: Junk to Funk Fashion, a week-long camp offered at the Miami Shores Community Center for girls between the ages of 7 and 12.
“This is one of my all-time favorites,” said Joanne Mundy, the camp’s director. “We all like the challenge and excitement.”
The idea for the camp came after Mundy watched a Project Runway episode where designers had to create outfits only out of items found in an old movie theater. Already the director of several week-long themed camps, she thought it was a worthy theme to interject between weeks of sewing, Dr. Seuss, and American Girl.
“I thought, oh my gosh, that would be the cutest thing ever,” she said.
Though the camp is only one week, it’s on her mind throughout the year as she collects materials for the camp. Organized in stacked containers in her garage, she’s always on the lookout for potential material.
“I go scrapping through my neighborhood like a hoarder,” she said. “Usually everyone is very gracious for donating materials.”
This year’s materials included newspapers (what Mundy calls “a hot commodity”), Disney store bags, tablecloths, tourist maps and a stack of Lion King playbills from when Mundy saw the musical last fall.
“She’s just got this crazy abundance of energy,” said Jessica Hodgman, 33, who worked as one of Mundy’s assistants. “Here, ideas become reality.”
Mundy, Hodgman and three other assistants arrived the day before the camp to survey all the materials and come up with potential ideas for each one. Campers pull the ideas, called challenges to keep up with the Project Runway theme, out of a box on the first day and start creating soon after. The only requirements: a recyclable couture garment that can be taken on and off, and a three-dimensional headpiece.
“I didn’t really know how it was going to happen,” said Devyn Mesa, 12, who pulled the “Paint Chip Creation” challenge. “But as I started to do it, it was really cool.”
From 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, Mundy and her assistants said the girls quickly get absorbed in the creation of their couture. Mundy, with scissors haphazardly dangling around her neck, flits around the room throughout the day, enthusiastically offering encouragement and advice for each outfit.
“It’s just amazing,” she said. “We plant the seed, and they go with it.”
The campers did most of the work, Mundy said, including sewing, unless they had no prior experience with a sewing machine. Only adults could use hot glue guns, but any other form of attachment was fair game for the campers.
On the day of the show, the mantra was no rips, no meltdowns, and the show will go on. Mundy had rolls of tape on her arms in case of catastrophe.
“Take your time,” she warned the girls right before the show’s opening. “The faster you walk, the faster you rip. Just remember what you’re wearing.”
The room filled with gasps as parents saw their children’s creations for the first time. Cell phone cameras were raised above their heads as they captured the twirls, the hip popping and the blown kisses.
“It’s like art,” said Brooke Pallot, after watching her daughter, Sora, walk the runway for the third year. Her Starbucks dress from last year is framed in the Pallot home, since her parents met in Starbucks. “I think it’s super creative, and I love that she has this place to come and create.”
The camp runway may not be the last runway the outfits see, Mundy said, since the outfits might be showcased as part of Miami Shores Green Day celebrations later in the year.
Despite the conclusion of the camp and the show, Accornero knew exactly when she would pull her red tablecloth dress out of the closet.
“If we go out to dinner — because it’s a tablecloth,” she said. “I can just reach down and wipe my mouth and my hands on it.”