What started from boredom has led to an eclectic line of paper dresses (slide show)
BY RACHEL ZYNEL
OU News Bureau
A box of newspapers, some old Videocassettes, a few plastic bags, a pair of scissors and tape.
Lots of tape.
What sounds like a kindergarten teacher’s nightmare has become one local artist’s claim to fame.
Royal Oak designer Matthew Richmond uses everyday materials such as these to create his eclectic line of dresses. Saving the Planet 1 Dress at a Time!, he calls his collection “eco couture.”
According to Richmond, his dresses have gained attention he never expected. He has no formal training in fashion design, working full time at the Douglas J. Aveda Institute. He says this project began as a hobby, more of a side project.
“It kind of just came about from boredom,” Richmond said. “Boredom and a lot of downtime.”
Pulling a mannequin from his parent’s basement to decorate his apartment one day, Richmond struck gold he never imagined. He began playing with wrapping paper to dress it up, experimenting with paper dresses before he even knew there was a market for this.
“I never knew paper dresses existed until I started doing them,” he said. “About three years ago, I found out about paper dresses. I searched them and found a lot of people are out there doing it. It’s not very common, but there’s still a lot of work out there. There’s some pretty amazing stuff.”
He first displayed his dresses in an open window at his salon, simply to fill space. As his work drew more attention, Richmond decided to make them wearable, doing photo shoots and displays.
His shows are an interactive experience. Models pose stationary like statues throughout the room before coming into the crowd, while photos of his dress line the walls of the room.
Rachel Louzon, 24, has attended many of Richmond’s shows. She says it’s an exciting experience each time.
“Matt’s shows are always interesting,” Louzon said. “They give him a chance to showcase his unique talent. The dresses he creates are dynamic and fun, but they also look amazing when they are on the models.”
Much of what Richmond creates is through trial and error, experimenting with different materials. His fabric is someone else’s trash — he just takes out everything that doesn’t look like a dress.
Most commonly, Richmond creates from different types of paper: wrapping, news, tissue. Even magazines and fliers can be found on some of his pieces.
He’s not afraid to try new materials for inspiration, however, like the plastic bags he used for a gown. One of his most distinct designs came from pulling apart old VHS cassettes and using the tape.
“I don’t know where I even got the idea of doing the VHS, I’ve never seen it before,” he admitted. “It just kind of came about. I was just experimenting, folding the tape and using it in different ways. I got a really cool shape and pattern out of it, so I just started going with it.”
Richmond says he would love to dedicate more time to this hobby.
“I would love to do this full-time … a lot of the work coming through is on my days off. Any down-time, I’m working on my dresses,” he said.
Richmond has kept his momentum going with this project into 2012. His dresses were featured in an art gallery exhibit at the Farmington Hills Costick Activities Center, and part of his collection was displayed at Somerset Mall in Troy.
Cliff Bell’s in Detroit will host his first runway fashion show in July.
“The biggest success is so many people finding out about it,” he said. “I just want people to see it and admire it. I want more people to see what I do. I never imagined it would go this far.”
“Now I just want to figure out how to make more money off it,” he said, jokingly. “Everybody wants to do what they love for a living. That’s what I would love to do, obviously – make a living off of what I do.”
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