Little girls in Ms. Joanne’s one-week camp in Miami Shores are sorting through scraps of fabric and other materials and giving the pieces a new life.
On a recent weekday, 30 youngsters created elaborate, dramatic headpieces from leftover tablecloths, holiday decorations, foil balloons and other discarded, recyclable materials. They were knee-deep in their projects for Junk to Funk camp, where they make — then wear — their fashion creations in a runway fashion show.
“They act like they’re designers from ‘Project Runway,’ ” says the camp’s director, Joanne Mundy. “They get a pile of junk and then they have to create with that pile.”
Each girl, who ranges from 7 and up, is challenged with creating a design around a certain theme, which they draw from a bowl on the first day. “Purple Rain,” a tribute to Prince, is one of the challenges. “Hot metal,” which emulates the metallic-toned dresses that some actresses wore to the Oscars, is another.
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Other “challenges” include “Michelle Obama’s inaugural dress,” “recycled soda cans,” “holiday gown,” “Disney princess,” “Audrey Hepburn,” “Florida Keys’ maps” and more.
Mundy says she was inspired to launch Junk to Funk three years ago after watching a “Project Runway” episode in which contestants were challenged with creating runway outfits out of movie theater props and materials, like film rolls and popcorn boxes. She collects and saves materials throughout the year for this project.
The camp aims to help girls think outside the box of how they can transform recycled materials that are usually only given a one-time use into “runway couture,” and offers them a crash-course in fashion and design.
“I’ve always liked fashion,” says Penelope Rodriguez, a 9-year-old camper. “I tried to make clothes for my American Girl dolls but I could never really do it.” She says she’s happy her mom signed her up and plans to enroll in Mundy’s weeklong sewing camp after this camp finishes.
“Everything is recycled,” says Mundy, who points to a canvas-type banner for a hair salon, inside the room of the Miami Shores Community/Recreation Center, where the camp takes place. “These banners came from a friend who works in a makeup department — and they throw them in a dumpster. I want the girls to use stuff that has been saved or repurposed. Reuse, reuse, reuse — that’s what we try to do. So it’s a bunch of piles of something that was going to be trash, which they turn into fashion.”
Even paper egg cartons are made into jewelry — painted and then formed to be a clunky necklace or bracelet.
Though each participant is tasked with making her own garment, the girls are broken into groups of five where they work with a mentor, or camp assistant, to make their vision become a tangible wardrobe. Mundy says one of the biggest challenges is getting the girls to think how to make their design ideas more dramatic, instead of simple or conservative.
The girls sifted through different fashion magazines, like Vogue, on their first day, and made collages of dramatic wardrobes, as an introduction strategy to introduce them to over-the-top apparel.
Layla Cuason, 9, returned for a second year to be in the Junk to Funk camp. Her challenge is to make an Oscar dress. “I think I’m going to make a sleeveless dress out of a yellow tablecloth,” she says, “and for my headpiece I’m probably going to glue six paper plates together, so it’s going to look like a box, and I’m going to superglue the sides with a piece of tablecloth.”
“When I grow up I want to be a fashion designer,” she adds, “so I want to learn as much as I can while I’m a child so I can have a better view of doing it.” She says she likes looking at the clothes featured in American Girl Doll magazines for fashion inspiration.
If you go
The Junk to Funk fashion show, which is free and open to the public with an RSVP, takes place at 4:30 p.m. Friday, July 22, at the Miami Shores Community/Recreation Center, 9617 Park Dr.
A similar camp, called Project Runway/Sewing Fashion Mayhem, will take place from Aug. 15 through 19 at the Miami Shores Community/Recreation Center. Email camp director Joanne Mundy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and/or to RSVP to this Friday’s Junk to Funk fashion show.