Dumpster Chic: Creative Up & Comers to Watch

Who doesn’t love a good pun? Honestly, we get that they are not exactly the highest form of comedic prowess, but puns really are basically guaranteed to get you a smile (coupled with a groan) every time. So what happens when you create a visual pun? This intriguing collection from a creative trio trying to make their mark was inspired by a clever play on words and taken to the next level by reimagining materials and objects that we all come across everyday. Clever word play plus unconventional material use? Oh yes, Kate Sonnick, Lola Rivera and Will Strawser are definitely creative up and comers to watch.

Tell us about the inspiration for this collection. Where did it come from?

KS: The images were created for a style feature for (585) Magazine in Rochester, NY. Rochester is home to the “Garbage Plate,” a dish heaped with mac & cheese, potato salad, french fries, and topped with hotdogs or burgers. The infamous plates were the theme of the issue. Our riff on that theme was to shoot a model (our own “fashion plate”) against a “garbage” backdrop, the Monroe County Recycling Center.

LR: (585) Magazine creates a theme for every issue. Will, Kate and I incorporate the theme and explore different ways to interpret it into their style section.

How did you translate this inspiration into the actual looks?

LR: The location gave me major inspiration. From the huge blocks of shredded paper down to the shine of the aluminum and plastics. I knew I wanted to somehow make the model glossy like the hues from the plastic and the shine from the aluminum.

KS: The wardrobe was completely inspired by recyclable materials found at the facility: shredded paper, brightly hued plastics, shiny aluminum cans. 

How long did it take to take this collection from inspiration to reality? What was your process?

KS: Less than a week. Budget and timing for this regional publication are super tight. The wardrobe was sourced from local boutiques and Home Depot after a location scout to the recycling facility. We were completely blown away by the secret life of garbage and the random beauty of the materials we saw: huge bales of shredded paper that looked like fringe; crushed aluminum cans resembling something out of an Andy Warhol dream; shiny bits of metal and broken glass; bright, poppy plastics. Those materials completely informed the wardrobe selection. The plastic gloves, nylon cord and bubble wrap from Home Depot created unexpected accessories that underscored the industrial nature of the location.

What was the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome on this shoot?

LR: My biggest obstacle was the giant rodents breezing by. Definitely a first for me! 

KS: Lucky for us, our model Jess was totally chill about our furry friends–way more so than the rest of us!

I love the idea of being inspired by everyday objects. Look at a recyclable red solo cup, for example. Some people see a container for PBR. I see a shiny, patent leather boot or brilliant red handbag.

What one thing about this collection are you most proud of?

KS: Definitely the shot of Jess standing in front of the bales of shredded paper. The moment I first saw those bales, I knew I had to find white fringe. But you know how it goes: you get an idea and you can never find what you see in your mind’s eye. This time was different. The dress in the shot was actually two pieces I found moments after going into two different boutiques: a knit dress with a fringe-y hem and a knit top covered with fringe trim. I added clear plastic gloves for a ladylike, grungy touch. But when we got the model into the shot, it needed a little something extra. Wanting to limit the accessories to Home Depot supplies, I had nothing else to add. Then, I noticed a plain white strip of cloth ribbon on an old shopping bag I had brought to the shoot. At the last minute, we tied that around the model’s wrist and I added a fringe-y bracelet I had happened to wear to the shoot. Sometimes you find the best ideas in the spur of the moment.

LR: I love our translation of the theme and how we incorporated everyone’s talents to create something that is not only fresh but also makes sense for the magazine’s featured theme.

How can the inspiration from this shoot be translated into a wearable trend?

KS: I love the idea of being inspired by everyday objects. Look at a recyclable red solo cup, for example. Some people see a container for PBR. I see a shiny, patent leather boot or brilliant red handbag.


Let’s talk collaboration. How did you develop the beauty looks to correspond with the fashion?

LR: I wanted our model Jess to glow in completely different ways in each image. The beauty looks developed organically with every wardrobe change. I started with a very heavy, dark, maroon lip and a hint of aqua bursting out of her eyes. I wanted Jess to look confident and sleek amidst the compiled recyclables. The slicked-back hair puts her face front and center; it’s striking to say the least. I moved towards a slightly softer look with the fringed dress look. I experimented with cranberry shadows to create a liner that was worn around her top and bottom lash line. I wanted her makeup to complement the creme-colored fringe skirt, not to overshadow it.  I toned her down completely for the last look. I love playing with opposities. She was wearing a metallic gold choker around her neck. So, I used greys and silvers on her eyes to play up her baby blues and kept the strong brow that was used on all the images. This image is actually my favorite. I wanted her to look delicate to portray a contrast with the plastic that was wrapped tightly around her waist.

*edited slightly for length & context


Photo: Will Strawser |web: willstrawser.com | instagram: @willstrawserphoto

Wardrobe: Kate Sonnick | web: katesonnick.com | instagram: @kisskissdahling

Hair & Makeup: Lola Rivera | web: lolarivera.com | instagram: @lolariveramua


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